I’ve been reading poetry for as long as I can remember. When I was little, I’d read classic poets, and still have a huge fondness for them. I have two poetry-based tattoos – one with a line by Robert Frost, and the other a line from a Bukoswki poem. I dabbled in writing a bit myself as a teenager, but looking back, it’s all so outrageously and embarrassingly angst-filled that it makes me cringe and dissuades me from ever trying again, hahaha. Instead, I’ll read poetry from others!
In the last few years, the poetry format has had a pretty great comeback, with names like Rupi Kaur and Madisen Kuhn and Cleo Wade becoming well known to booksellers and readers alike. There’s never been a shortage of poetry for me to read, and while that’s a great thing to be able to say, I will say that in the last year or two, I’ve actually been reading way less than normal. This is probably due to my heavy focus on the horror genre, from my bookstagram to my blog reviews. The horror genre has always been my favorite, but I had no idea how big the available variety was until becoming involved in the horror community online. And wow, there’s SO MUCH! Naturally, this has pushed my other genre reading back quite a bit (which I’m pretty okay with!).
That all said, because of my involvement in the horror community, I’ve stumbled onto recommendations for a subgenre I didn’t even know existed. The meld of horror and poetry is unlike any other – it’s beautiful and lyrical while being terrifying and sometimes gory at the same time. It sheds a light into the darkest parts of the author’s thoughts or experiences, and it lays them all out for you to read in bite-sized snippets that are deliciously dark and eloquently macabre. I’m obviously a big, big fan – so I wanted to get a few favorites and share them with you!
The list of great horror poetry isn’t only 6 books long, so if you like the stuff here, definitely go check out the authors, and look for more! My book wishlist is like a mile long, but the ones on this list are ones I personally own either a digital or physical copy of & have read, and would absolutely recommend.
6 Collections of Horror Poetry That I Love
1) I AM NOT YOUR FINAL GIRL by Claire C. Holland
From Claire C. Holland, a timely collection of poetry that follows the final girl of slasher cinema – the girl who survives until the end – on a journey of retribution and reclamation. From the white picket fences of 1970s Haddonfield to the apocalyptic end of the world, Holland confronts the role of women in relation to subjects including feminism, violence, motherhood, sexuality, and assault in the world of Trump and the MeToo movement. Each poem centers on a fictional character from horror cinema, and explores the many ways in which women find empowerment through their own perceived monstrousness.
2) LOVE FOR SLAUGHTER by Sara Tantlinger
This debut collection of poetry from Sara Tantlinger takes a dark look at all the horrors of love, the pleasures of flesh, and the lust for blood. For discerning fans of romance and the macabre, look no further than Love For Slaughter.
3) A COLLECTION OF NIGHTMARES by Christina Sng
Hold your screams and enter a world of seasonal creatures, dreams of bones, and confessions modeled from open eyes and endless insomnia. Christina Sng’s A Collection of Nightmares is a poetic feast of sleeplessness and shadows, an exquisite exhibition of fear and things better left unsaid. Here are ramblings at the end of the world and a path that leads to a thousand paper cuts at the hands of a skin carver. There are crawlspace whispers, and fresh sheets gently washed with sacrifice and poison, and if you’re careful in this ghost month, these poems will call upon the succubus to tend to your flesh wounds and scars.
4) THE APOCALYPTIC MANNEQUIN by Stephanie M. Wytovich
The Apocalyptic Mannequin by Stephanie M. Wytovich is a collection that strips away civilization and throws readers into the lives of its survivors. The poems inside are undelivered letters, tear-soaked whispers, and unanswered prayers. They are every worry you’ve had when your electricity went out, and every pit that grew in your stomach watching the news at night. They are tragedy and trauma, but they are also grief and fear, fear of who–or what–lives inside us once everything is taken away.
5) CHOKING BACK THE DEVIL by Donna Lynch
Choking Back the Devil by Donna Lynch is an invocation, an ancient invitation that summons the darkness within and channels those lonely spirits looking for a host. It’s a collection that lives in the realm of ghosts and family curses, witchcraft and urban legends, and if you’re brave enough to peek behind the veil, the hauntings that permeate these pages will break seals and open doorways, cut throats and shatter mirrors.
6) BREATHE, BREATHE. by Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi
Breathe. Breathe. is a collection of dark poetry and short fiction exploring the surreal depths of humanity. It’s a representation of how life breaks us apart and words put us back together. Purged onto the pages, dark emotions flow, urging readers into murky seas and grim forests, to the fine line between breathing and death.
What are your favorite poets, or poetry collections? Have you read any of these? Some of these writers also write short stories or books, so if poetry isn’t your thing, there may be something else you like! Honestly though, even if you think “poetry’s not my thing”, try the recommendations above. You may change your mind! 😉
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