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So many of today’s incredible YA writers are poets themselves, and it shows in their beautiful prose, as well as the way they incorporate verse right into their novels. Authors such as Renée Watson, Elizabeth Acevedo, and Jacqueline Woodson have woven their poems right into their works. But how often have you been looking for your own poetry that has nothing to do with your books? Even pulling out stand-alone poems from their books can be an incredible experience of language, imagery, and talent.
Some of these poems by YA authors will be full-text while others will be excerpts or from social media. Also note that some of these poems cover serious topics such as mental health, suicide, and loss.
Poems by YA authors
“Drum Dream Girl” by Margarita Engle
On an island of music
in a city of drumbeats
the drum dream girl
of pounding high conga drums
tap small bongó drums
and boom boom is booming
with long, loud sticks
on big, round, silvery
on the island of music
in the city of drumbeats
believed that only boys
should play the drums
so the drum dream girl
had to keep dreaming
Keep reading the whole poem
“You mean you don’t cry in the nail salon?” by Elizabeth Acevedo
“Stomp” by Nikki Grimes
I get home,
Feet about to bleed
from furious pounding.
“Boy!” says mom.
“Stop doing all these rackets.”
But what can you expect?
if day after day
Haters hurl words at me
like jagged stones
designed to split my skin?
I retire to my room
collapse on the bed
count: “One. Two. Three…”
When i’m ten
I grab my diary and pen
scroll to a clean page,
and discharge my pain, my anger
Until I can breathe again.
Letter by letter,
my decision-making power
Which words are important?
what words not,
Quiet, now I remember:
I can choose.
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from poetry, March 2021
“Continental Army” by Marilyn Nelson
“This Is The Honey” by Mahogany L. Brown
There is no place on this planet for anything less than a miracle
We gather here today to enjoy the rebellion of a silent language
Every day we lean into the light of our brightest designs
& appreciate the sun
Praise our hands and throats
every evocation, an anniversary of a wildly dreaming people
Despite the dirt
under our feet
or the wind
to push against
our greatest efforts
The soil creates things
Artificial births change
This is the honey
& doesn’t it taste like a promise?
Where your heart is an accordion
& our laughter is a soundtrack
Friend, dance to this good song –
look how it holds our name!
Keep reading the whole poem
“We Can’t Breathe” by Zetta Elliott from Say Her Name
“Where are you from?” by Renée Watson
“Burn Lake” by Carrie Fountain
For Burn Construction Company
When you built the I-10 bypass,
one of your bulldozers that moves the earth
in the center of a large pit,
slipped his thick blade under it
the water table that cuts into the bottom of the earth
damp palm, and the mud was moistened
under the tires of the giant thing and the crew
was sent home for the day.
The next morning water filled the pit.
Nothing could be done to stop it.
It was a revelation: kidney-shaped, deep
green, there between the autobahn
and the sewage treatment plant.
If nothing else worked, you named it
a lake and opened it to the public.
And we were the public.
from the Poetry Foundation
#MeToo by Laurie Halse Anderson
“Nature Lesson” by Christine Heppermann from Poisoned Apples: Poems for you, my pretty
“Six Months After Contemplating Suicide” by Erika L. Sánchez
You wanted the end
with a serpentine
Greed. How to negotiate
Fog, the fibrous
Cease to exist
and to die
are two completely different things.
But you knew that
you don’t have
Some days you kneeled on coins
in these yellow hours.
You lit a flame
to your shadow
Scorpions with bare fingers.
So touched by the sadness of the hair
in a dirty sink.
The evil smell
If instead of swallowing a handful
of white pills,
you decided to take a shower
nodded in agreement,
sing of crickets
behind your puffy eyes.
The masked bird
turned to you
hang with a piece of paper
from its beak.
Hair wet and fragrant,
You shrunk a goat’s face
its trembling horns.
It fell down
gone through you
like a quick one
and generous storm.
from poetry, December 2015
“The Rider” by Naomi Shihab Nye
A boy told me
if it rolled fast enough
his loneliness could not overtake him,
The best reason I’ve ever heard to become a champion.
What I’m wondering tonight
Kick hard down King William Street
is when it comes to bicycles.
A victory! To leave your loneliness
panting behind you on a street corner
while floating freely in a cloud of sudden azaleas,
pink petals that have never felt lonely
no matter how slowly they fell.
via the Library of Congress
“For Every One” by Jason Reynolds, excerpt from For Every One
Do you want more poetry? Browse these books of poetry for teenagers, YA verse novels, and powerful depression poems.