So many of today’s incredible YA authors are themselves poets, and it shows in their gorgeous prose, as well as in the ways they incorporate verse right into their novels. Authors like Renée Watson, Elizabeth Acevedo, and Jacqueline Woodson have woven their poetry right into their works. But how often have you sought out their stand alone poetry not related to their books? Even pulling out standalone poems from their books can be an incredible experience of language, imagery, and sheer talent.
Some of these poems by YA authors will be full texts, while others will be excerpts or from social media. Likewise, note that some of these poems deal with heavy topics like mental health, suicide, and loss.
Poems by YA Authors
“Drum Dream Girl” by Margarita Engle
On an island of music
in a city of drumbeats
the drum dream girl
of pounding tall conga drums
tapping small bongó drums
and boom boom booming
with long, loud sticks
on big, round, silvery
“You Mean You Don’t Weep At The Nail Salon?” by Elizabeth Acevedo
“Stomp” by Nikki Grimes
I come home,
feet about to bleed
from angry stomping.
“Boy!” says Mom.
“Quit making all that racket.”
But what does she expect
when, day after day,
haters sling words at me
like jagged stones
designed to split my skin?
from Poetry, March 2021
“Continental Army” by Marilyn Nelson
“This Is The Honey” by Mahogany L. Brown
There is no room on this planet for anything less than a miracle
We gather here today to revel in the rebellion of a silent tongue
Every day, we lean forward into the light of our brightest designs
& cherish the sun
Praise our hands & throats
each incantation, a jubilee of a people dreaming wildly
Despite the dirt
beneath our feet
or the wind
our greatest efforts
“We Can’t Breathe” by Zetta Elliott, from Say Her Name
“Where You From?” by Renée Watson
“Burn Lake” by Carrie Fountain
For Burn Construction Company
When you were building the i-10 bypass,
one of your dozers, moving earth
at the center of a great pit,
slipped its thick blade beneath
the water table, slicing into the earth’s
wet palm, and the silt moistened
beneath the huge thing’s tires, and the crew
was sent home for the day.
from Poetry Foundation
#MeToo by Laurie Halse Anderson
“Nature Lesson” by Christine Heppermann from Poisoned Apples: Poems For You My Pretty
you wanted the end
with a serpentine
greed. How to negotiate
mist, the fibrous
A boy told me
if he roller-skated fast enough
his loneliness couldn’t catch up to him,
the best reason I ever heard for trying to be a champion.
What I wonder tonight
pedaling hard down King William Street
is if it translates to bicycles.