5 poems to get you into poetry

April is National Poetry Month! It's the perfect time to cast aside your preconceived notions and jump into the world of verse. Here are a few of my favourite gateway poems.

Two people reading a book together in a tent Photo: Andrea Piacquadio

Poetry can be intimidating. When I was in high school, Shakespeare’s sonnets were like reading another language, with no interpretation of mine reaching a nuance that I now see they deserved. I loved how the words sounded, how they rolled off my tongue and resonated in the air, but they were empty. I didn’t know what they meant and because of that, I didn’t feel like I could read poetry for fun.

Why would I read something I had to work at to understand? That was until I realized that poetry lived outside of the classroom, with verses that still sound beautiful to say but require a little less effort to decipher.

So, I’ve compiled a list of 5 poems that broke the boundary between me and poetry and made the world of verse much easier to learn to appreciate. Take a few minutes and give these a read. You never know, they might ignite a passion you never knew you had.


O Captain! My Captain!

Walt Whitman



William Ernest Henly



Oscar Wilde


Still I Rise

Maya Angelou



Langston Hughes


Next steps

Did you like any of those? Now you can try checking out some collections: my favourites include Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman and The Complete Poetry of Edgar Allan Poe. Or you can browse poetry websites like Poetry Foundation and perhaps stumble upon a favourite poet or poem that you can't get out of your head.

If you truly get the poetry itch, you can check out all the Creative Writing classes that Dal has to offer. They even have two poetry classes you can take if you want to turn your newfound passion for reading poetry into writing it.