Top 10 Poetry Books of 2016 – India


Who doesn’t love a good piece of poetry but the challenge in preparing this list was to shortlist just a few from thousands of works; of course, the greater challenge was in selecting works that had a wider appeal. These works feature some of the best-known poets and range from surrealism fantastical, each outstanding on their own.


Night Sky With Exit Wounds

Ocean Vuong debut work certainly stands out for all the right reasons and brims with both creativity and naked vulnerability that jumps out at you right from the first few pages. Some of the poems are outstandingly brilliant not to mention poignant and heartbreaking; and as expected the collection of poems ranges from ordinary life to sex, violence to war, aftermath, recovery and so much more. Often the one thing that makes a poem stand out is that it has to have the personal element in it and the poet here does not disappoint on that front either. While this may just be a debut work, it is still outstandingly brilliant so if you are in the market for a good collection of poems, then you would definitely need to read this one as it is one of the top 10m poetry books of 2016.


Solmaz Sharif debut book certainly made waves for all the right reasons; the collection of poems paints a heartbreaking effects of a war, one that cannot be exemplified by just prose alone. These poems manages to bring to the fore the utter bleakness of the human situation with its residual impact on all life and how the people directly affected by the same deal with the aftermath of the destruction. Solmaz paints a beautiful and heart rendering image of the survival of the human spirit despite the odds through these poems. It also finds an echo in today’s society as free speech gets muzzled all over the world for various reasons and points out to the ineffectiveness of such measures for free speech will always win out in the end, one way or the other. If you were in the market for an outstanding collection of poems, then you should definitely read this one for it stands out as one of the top 10 poetry books of 2016.


If you were looking for a sensual collection of Poems, then Sharon’s recent release would be a good fit. The collection ranges of a series of poems based on a woman’s perspective and her body. In fact, the very first poem is titled “an ode to the hymen” and these poems often range from a bemoaning of lost innocence to coming to grips with one’s sexuality. It allows you to relate to each body part as Sharon brings the same into sharp focus through her various poems. This book is indeed a polemic where poetry and the human body is concerned for never before had there been a collection so excruciatingly detailed, yet crafted so exquisitely that these verses tend to take your breath away. So if you are looking for a sensual collection of poems, then you need to read this one right away for it is indeed one of the best books to read.


From arresting diction to vibrant imagery, nuanced scenes and visceral language this collection seeks to explore the dark psyche that is human and at the same time, launches a polemic on the way that white entitlement sought to paint all blacks as savages. It also explores the background behind the word “cannibal” and seeks to exorcise some of the current misconceptions of Jamaica and the way its natives had been demonized in the recent past. From the very first poem to the last one, this collection of visually enthralling poems stands out for all the right reasons. Apart from the Jamaican focus, this collection also tries to answer as to ‘what it means to be the other’ and points out how to come to terms with the female body and one’s sexuality. What makes this collection stand out from many others is how artfully Safiya had developed it, from painting vivid imagery into enthralling depictions of various themes, this is why this collection stands out as one of the top 10 poetry books.

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The Performance of Becoming Human

Think Orwellian nightmare and you would have got a gist to what this collection of poems is all about. This collection is about as gritty as it gets as it seeks to paint the world with its vivid imagery of destruction, ruin facing all of earth as it seeks to expose the dichotomy that is pervasive in the same, from those who have it all to those who have nothing. The vivid imagery used by the author leaps off the pages at you and assaults your very senses as you are left confronting an Orwellian nightmare at its darkest. But the poems to offer a slim chance of hope and the enduring survival of the human spirit so it is not all dark and gloom. So for a gritty take on what the future may hold, you may want to read this collection; it certainly ranks as one of the best books in poetry to come out this year.

Garden Time

W.S.Mervin is inarguably one of the best modern poets of the world today and his latest work certainly underscores as to why that is the case. This particular collection pans from the fragility of the human condition and how our psyche manages to survive even if all our senses fail as we age. This collection was compiled just as the author was losing his eye sight and it certainly captures him at its very best. The poems are hauntingly beautiful and manage to capture the essence of beauty, nature at its best and the demon that is old age. It also puts life in perspective as it forces you to recall your distant past as well as the present times and makes you take a closer look at the same.  This collection is some of the most beautiful and enthralling poems to ever be developed and each stand out on its own merit. This is why this collection ranks rather high when it comes to book recommendations

Collected Poems: 1974–2004

Rita Dove, a Pulitzer prize winner is one of the best literary figures in society today and with good reason. Her poems are a classic, with beautiful narrative, symbolism and with exquisitely crafted lines; Rita manages to bring the various divergent themes alive as you skim the pages. Her skill is outstanding and the treatment she affords to the wide range of subjects is equally enthralling – from her take on adolescence in the yellow house on the corner to her musings in the museum.  This book is a must read and is a compendium that spans thirty years and seven books; which is why it stands out as one of the top 10 poetry books.


Monica Youn manages to take innovativeness in poems to an all new art form with her latest collection. This collection, even though it is based on a 17th century legal term forces you to come to terms with your own humanity, why you are here and what you leave behind be it a bequest or a loved one. It points out to the fact that your existence is temporary and that you need to take a hard look at yourself and your life. This book is indeed a must read for all literature students and lovers of fine poems which is why it stands out as one of the best books.


If you loved Sylvia path and fantastical creatures, then you’ll love this book as it takes abstract expression to a whole new art form. This collection emphasizes the darkness and uses dark imagery along with all matters of fantastical creatures from mermaids to griffins. These poems literally leave you gasping you for more which is why they stand out as one of the best books to come out this year.

Collected Poems: 1950–2012

Adrienne’s book, a vast collection that spans over six decades offers you a look at some of the best examples of fine poetry – from vivid imagery to visceral descriptions, each poem makes you want for more and Adrienne brings the curtains down in every case. One of the most widely read literary giants of modern times; Adrienne stands out from all the others as she is a class act that very few can compare to. This book is a definite must read and certainly ranks right at the top when it comes to book recommendations

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