In Celebration of National Poetry Month

To celebrate National Poetry Month, here is a selection of poetry, and works about poetry, available online with an Oakland Public Library card.

A guest post from one of our poetry experts at the Main Library, Librarian Stella Goodwin.

This selection of eBooks, Audiobooks and films draws on works from Overdrive and Kanopy. If you have any difficulty with either of these platforms, you can send a message to to request assistance.

Some eBooks on Overdrive

Contemporary Poetry

Dark. Sweet.
By Linda Hogan
“To be held / by the light / was what I wanted, / to be a tree drinking the rain, / no longer parched in this hot land” (To Be Held): Linda Hogan’s environmental concerns and spiritual focus, and her Chickasaw heritage, infuse her poetry.

Hard Times Require Furious Dancing
By Alice Walker
Alice Walker’s words from the preface of this collection, published in 2013, resonate today, “Though we have encountered our share of grief and troubles on this earth, we can still hold the line of beauty, form, and beat. No small accomplishment in a world as troubled as this one.”

Red Bird
By Mary Oliver
“I did not come into this world / to be comforted. / I came, like a red bird, to sing” (Red Bird). Mary Oliver’s appreciation of nature, and her gratitude for life, reverberate in this collection.

Time and Materials
By Robert Hass
“Or to render time and stand outside / The horizontal rush of it, for a moment / To have the sensation of standing outside / The greenish rush of it” (Time and Materials). In this collection of poems, Bay Area poet, and former US Poet Laureate, Robert Hass addresses nature, art, domestic life, and American society.

Some eBooks about Poetry

Don’t Read Poetry
By Stephanie Burt
Rather than telling us to avoid poetry, as the catchy title of this work suggests, literary critic Stephanie Burt shows us how to read and enjoy poems, both of the past and present.

Japanese Haiku
By Kenneth Yasuda
A leading scholar in the field, Kenneth Yasuda includes and analyses both translated haiku, and haiku written in English; he explains what haiku is and how it has developed.

The Making of Poetry
By Adam Nicolson
Adam Nicolson takes as his subject an amazing year for poetry in England, June 1797 to September 1798, calling it the “year of marvels.” He focuses on certain works, notably Coleridge’s The Rime of the Ancient Mariner and Kubla Khan, and Wordsworth’s Tintern Abbey and the revolutionary songs in Lyrical Ballads.

Some Classics

Unlike most works on Overdrive, which are subject to holds, classic eBooks are always available. Here are a few from a large collection, inspired in part by Nicolson’s The Making of Poetry (see above):
Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman
Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral by Phillis Wheatley
The Poetical Works of William Wordsworth
The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Some Audiobooks on Overdrive

American Sonnets for My Past and Future Assassins by Terrance Hayes
The Poetry Remedy: Prescriptions for the Heart, Mind and Soul by William Sieghart
A Surprised Queenhood in the New Black Sun: The Life and Legacy of Gwendolyn Brooks by Angela Jackson

Some Films on Kanopy

For My People: The Life and Writing of Margaret Walker
Hughes’s Dream Harlem
Poetry in Motion
Other poets depicted on film include Milosz, Neruda and Yeats

To conclude, National Poetry Month was established in 1996 by the Academy of American Poets. Their website is a rich resource for poetry. For example, you can sign up to receive a poem-a-day via email. Visit their site at