New Poetry for Teens

Think poetry is just for little kids or grown-ups? Think again. Teen poetry is making new waves in the world of literature, and teenagers are connecting with the poetry genre in ways they never thought possible.

The newest teen poems are sometimes raw, sometimes funny, sometimes messy, but always real. The poems push readers out of their comfort zones. They inspire expression of emotion no matter how big or how small the feeling. They tell readers, “I understand you,” and “I’ve been there too.”

The two poetry anthology books listed below contain poems written or chosen by teens to inspire their peers on the road to self-discovery, independence, and hope.

Poetry Speaks Who I Am is a collection of more than 100 poems from classic poets like William Shakespeare as well as refreshing new teen writers like Elizabeth Alexander. These poems become a connecting point for teens to express emotions about anything and everything from divorce to bra shopping, dating to diversity, vampires to grief.

The poems use humor, rhythm, everyday language, emotion, and honesty to inspire teens to express who they really are, such as in Maya Angelou’s poem “Still I Rise.”

You may write me down in history

With your bitter, twisted lies,

You may tread me in the very dirt

But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

The collection also comes with a CD of 44 poems read by the poets to help readers experience teen poetry on a whole new level.

Paint Me Like I Am is as gritty, inspirational, and real as poems come because every poem in the book was written by at-risk inner city teens who were part of a writing program run by WritersCorps, a national nonprofit youth organization.

The poems are the voices of the urban youth scene in America expressing the truth about inner cities, diversity, and poverty, such as in Kenny Zapeda’s poem “The Artists.”

They’re just painting


On the old wooden walls

Next to the fire escape stairs

Their only friends

Are the quiet night

And the beautiful moon

The collection also includes a foreword by award-winning poet Nikki Giovanni, an essay from WritersCorps poet Kevin Powell, and writing tips from WritersCorps instructors.