The Greatest "Contemporary, Poetry" Books Since 1980

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This list represents a comprehensive and trusted collection of the greatest books. Developed through a specialized algorithm, it brings together 313 'best of' book lists to form a definitive guide to the world's most acclaimed books. For those interested in how these books are chosen, additional details can be found on the rankings page.

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Contemporary

Contemporary books are a genre that focuses on stories set in the present day, often exploring current social, cultural, and political issues. These books are typically written in a modern style and often feature relatable characters dealing with real-life situations. Contemporary books can cover a wide range of topics, from romance and family drama to coming-of-age stories and thrillers. The genre is constantly evolving to reflect the changing world we live in, making it a popular choice for readers who want to stay up-to-date with the latest trends and issues.

Poetry

Poetry is a genre of literature that uses language to evoke emotion, paint vivid imagery, and convey complex ideas through the use of rhythm, meter, and sound. It is characterized by its use of figurative language, such as metaphors and similes, and its ability to capture the essence of a moment or experience in a concise and powerful way. Poetry can take many forms, including sonnets, haikus, free verse, and spoken word, and can cover a wide range of topics, from love and nature to politics and social issues. As a category for books, poetry offers readers a unique and intimate glimpse into the human experience, inviting them to explore the beauty and complexity of language and the world around them.

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  1. 1. The Crossover by Kwame Alexander

    "The Crossover" is a heartfelt and poetic novel that follows the journey of a talented young basketball player named Josh Bell. Set in a world of sports and sibling rivalry, Josh faces challenges both on and off the court as he navigates the complexities of family, friendship, and first love. Through Alexander's lyrical writing style, readers are taken on an emotional rollercoaster that explores themes of identity, loss, and the power of perseverance.

    The 4108th Greatest Book of All Time
  2. 2. The Beauty Of The Husband by Anne Carson

    "The Beauty of the Husband" is a poetic exploration of a failing marriage. Told in 29 tangos, the narrative unfolds the story of a woman who remains in love with her husband despite his numerous infidelities. The husband, a charming and deceitful character, is portrayed as a figure of magnetic attraction and revulsion, with his wife drawn to his charisma and repelled by his dishonesty. The book is a profound examination of love, betrayal, and the complex dynamics of relationships.

    The 4340th Greatest Book of All Time
  3. 3. A Wake For The Living by Radmila Lazić

    "A Wake For The Living" is a thought-provoking novel that delves into the complex web of personal and political conflicts in a war-torn country. Set against the backdrop of the Balkan War, the story follows a diverse group of characters who are forced to confront their pasts and navigate the aftermath of violence and loss. Through vivid storytelling and rich character development, the author explores themes of identity, forgiveness, and the enduring power of hope in the face of adversity.

    The 4770th Greatest Book of All Time
  4. 4. The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo

    "The Poet X" is a coming-of-age novel that follows the journey of a young girl named Xiomara, who uses poetry as an outlet to navigate her complex life. Set in Harlem, Xiomara grapples with her strict Dominican parents, her evolving understanding of her own identity, and her burgeoning relationship with a boy named Aman. Through her powerful and honest poetry, Xiomara finds her voice, confronts societal expectations, and discovers the strength to define herself on her own terms.

    The 5043rd Greatest Book of All Time
  5. 5. Dancing In Odessa by Ilya Kaminsky

    "Dancing In Odessa" is a collection of poems that explores themes of love, loss, and identity through the lens of the author's experiences growing up in Odessa, Ukraine. With vivid imagery and lyrical language, the poems delve into the complexities of personal and cultural history, capturing the resilience and beauty of the human spirit in the face of adversity. Through its exploration of love and longing, the collection offers a poignant and evocative portrayal of the human condition.

    The 5685th Greatest Book of All Time
  6. 6. Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds

    In this gripping and thought-provoking novel, a young African American teenager named Will faces a life-altering decision after his older brother is shot and killed. Set in an elevator, the story unfolds over the course of sixty seconds as Will descends to the ground floor, contemplating whether to seek revenge on his brother's murderer. Along the way, he encounters a series of individuals who challenge his perspective on violence, justice, and the cycle of retribution. With powerful prose and a raw emotional intensity, the book explores themes of grief, systemic racism, and the complexities of personal choices.

    The 6849th Greatest Book of All Time
  7. 7. Loving In The War Years by Cherríe Moraga

    "Loving In The War Years" is a poignant collection of essays and poems that delve into the complexities of identity, sexuality, and feminism within the context of Chicana culture. The work explores the intersection of race, gender, and class, as the author reflects on her experiences as a queer woman of color navigating the societal and personal battlegrounds of the 1970s and 1980s. Through a blend of personal narrative and critical analysis, the book confronts the challenges of finding love and solidarity in a world marked by war, discrimination, and cultural dislocation, offering a powerful meditation on the struggle for self-acceptance and community in the face of enduring oppression.

    The 6930th Greatest Book of All Time
  8. 8. Rapture by Carol Ann Duffy

    "Rapture" is a collection of love poems that explore the highs and lows of passionate love. The poems are deeply emotional and personal, capturing the intensity of love, the pain of heartbreak, and the healing power of time. The author uses beautiful and evocative language to convey the depth of her feelings, creating a powerful and moving portrayal of love in all its forms.

    The 7353rd Greatest Book of All Time
  9. 9. Ooga-Booga by Frederick Seidel

    "Ooga-Booga" is a collection of poems that explore the human condition in the modern world with a brutally honest and often controversial perspective. The author uses vivid and dark imagery to depict themes of love, death, politics, and societal decay. The poems are often characterized by their unflinching examination of the darker aspects of life, and their ability to incite both discomfort and reflection in the reader.

    The 7465th Greatest Book of All Time
  10. 10. Milk And Honey & The Sun And Her Flowers By Rupi Kaur 2 Books Collection Set by Rupi Kaur

    This collection set brings together two poignant poetry books that delve into the depths of the human experience, touching on themes of love, loss, trauma, healing, femininity, and migration. The first book is a journey through the bitter and the sweet moments of life, divided into four chapters that each deal with a different pain and yet heal a different heartache. The second book is a celebration of growth and healing, inspired by the author's past and cultural heritage, and is presented in five chapters that follow the life cycle of a flower as a metaphor for personal growth and revival. Both works are characterized by their candid prose, minimalistic style, and the raw, powerful emotions they evoke, resonating with a wide audience and marking a significant contribution to contemporary poetry.

    The 8412th Greatest Book of All Time
  11. 11. Human Chain by Seamus Heaney

    "Human Chain" is a deeply personal and reflective collection of poems that explore themes of memory, loss, and the passage of time. The author draws on his own experiences, including his childhood in rural Ireland, his relationships with family members, and his reflections on aging and mortality. The poems are marked by vivid imagery and a profound sense of the interconnectedness of human lives, creating a powerful and moving exploration of the human condition.

    The 8779th Greatest Book of All Time
  12. 12. She Felt Like Feeling Nothing by r.h. Sin

    The book is a poignant collection of poetry that delves into the complexities of womanhood, love, loss, and self-discovery. Through a series of raw and emotional verses, the poet explores the depths of feeling and the pain of numbness when overwhelmed by heartache and disillusionment. The poems serve as a journey through the stages of healing, offering solace to readers who have experienced similar struggles, and providing a voice to the often unspoken intricacies of the female experience. With its honest and relatable narrative, the book resonates with anyone who has ever felt the need to find strength in vulnerability and beauty in the midst of chaos.

    The 9071st Greatest Book of All Time
  13. 13. F Letter: New Russian Feminist Poetry by Galina Rymbu, Eugene Ostashevsky, Ainsley Morse

    "F Letter: New Russian Feminist Poetry" is a captivating collection of contemporary Russian feminist poetry that challenges societal norms and explores themes of gender, identity, and power. Through the powerful and thought-provoking verses of Galina Rymbu, Eugene Ostashevsky, and Ainsley Morse, this anthology sheds light on the experiences and perspectives of women in Russia, offering a unique and refreshing voice in the world of literature.

    The 9103rd Greatest Book of All Time
  14. 14. Suzy Zeus Gets Organized by Maggie Robbins

    The book is a whimsical and rhythmic exploration of the life of a woman from Indiana who embarks on a series of adventures and misadventures in love and life. Through a blend of humor and pathos, the protagonist navigates her way through the complexities of adulthood, from her early years to middle age, dealing with themes of identity, sexuality, and self-discovery. The narrative, structured in a series of poetic vignettes, captures the essence of a person striving to find order and meaning in a chaotic world, ultimately seeking to organize not just her external circumstances, but her internal world as well.

    The 9144th Greatest Book of All Time
  15. 15. District and Circle by Seamus Heaney

    "District and Circle" is a collection of poems that explores themes of memory, loss, and the passage of time. The poet uses vivid imagery and lyrical language to evoke a sense of place and history, often drawing on his own experiences growing up in rural Ireland. The poems range in subject matter from personal reflections to broader social and political commentary, providing a nuanced and deeply felt exploration of the human condition.

    The 11321st Greatest Book of All Time
  16. 16. Elegies by Douglas Dunn

    "Elegies" is a collection of poems that serves as a profound and moving chronicle of the author's grief following the death of his wife from cancer. The verses are raw, honest, and intimate, exploring the depths of sorrow, the emptiness of loss, and the struggle to find meaning in the face of such devastating heartbreak. At the same time, the poems also celebrate the joy of love, the beauty of shared experiences, and the enduring strength of the human spirit.

    The 11324th Greatest Book of All Time

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