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Bellingham Public Library Features Poetry in April

April is National Poetry Month, and the Bellingham Public Library has hundreds of books and films filled with great poetry for all ages. The display at the Central Library this month will spotlight Teen and Adult “Books in Verse” in particular.

Poetry Books for Adults

From books of poetry about love, to books of poetry about war and all that lies in between, the Bellingham Public Library has something for everyone.

To start your reading adventure, simply type “poetry” or “books in verse” into the keyword search bar, then use the catalog’s “advance search” feature to narrow down your specific needs, and to also find e-books, e-audiobooks, and audiobook CDs.

Library Staff Recommends:


Poems & Songs by Leonard Cohen

Liz recommends the Everyman’s Library Edition of Poems and Songs by well-known songwriter Leonard Cohen. She is pictured here with her own well-worn personal copy, but you can check one out from the library, as well as other books of poetry, drawings, and stories by the famed songwriter. – Liz, Public Services Librarian

The Flame by Leonard Cohen

A Ballet of Lepers by Leonard Cohen

Book of Mercy by Leonard Cohen

Joy edited by Christian Wyman

Ali recommends this collection of “100 of the most evocative modern poems on joy, selected by award-winning contemporary poet, Christian Wyman.” – Bibliocommons

Calling a Wolf a Wolf by Kaveh Akbar “A powerful examination of addiction, boyhood, and the immigrant queer experience. Kaveh Akbar is a master of his craft, and this book is absolutely stunning in every way.”

If They Come For Us by Fatimah Asghar “Lyrical and beautiful, Asghar’s work is a gorgeous grappling with sexuality, coming of age, and growing up as a Muslim woman in America. Her work is joyous, vulnerable, and brave. It cannot be recommended enough.”

How to Not Be Afraid of Everything by Jane Wong “Jane Wong is a wonderful poet, and this, her second book, only continues to prove so. It’s an amazing elegy to Wong’s family and experiences growing up. A wonderful read, and a book that isn’t afraid to show its teeth.”

Beowulf: A New Translation by Maria Dahvana Headley “Dahvana Headley’s work is clever, fresh, and exciting, and she even keeps the alliterative form of old Anglo-saxon poetry which lends this translation a musicality that makes it impossible to put down and impossible to forget.”

-Rosalie, Public Services Clerk

Poetry Books for Teens

Check out this great list of YA books in verse available as books, ebooks, and eaudiobooks!

Young Adult Books in Verse

Library Staff Recommends:

Ain’t Burned All the Bright by Jason Reynolds and Jason Griffin

“While I really like poetry, I have a hard time reading a whole book in verse because I get thrown off by the line breaks and pacing, which interrupts the story. The solution: listening to books in verse. The first time I listened to an audio version of a book in verse, I didn’t even know it was in verse until I had finished the book! That experience opened a whole world of books I had avoided as a reader.

The lyrical nature of poetry makes books in verse wonderful listening experiences. Check out “Ain’t Burned All The Bright” by Jason Reynolds and Jason Griffin. While I had trouble connecting to the print version of this mashup of art and poetry detailing what it’s like to be young and black in America, the audiobook brought tears to my eyes. And it’s read beautifully by the author, and former Library of Congress Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, Jason Reynolds.” – Jennifer, Teen Services Librarian


Door of No Return by Kwame Alexander

“Kofi is a 11 year old boy living in a small African village who is a gifted swimmer, has an annoying rivalry with his cousin, and is thrilled he’s caught the eye of a girl named Ama. But all that is stripped away one night as he is captured and finds himself a prisoner; a victim of human slavery and trafficking. This moving historical fiction piece is told in Kwame Alexander’s signature verse format. It is powerful, it is heartfelt, and it is important. You will cheer on and cry with Kofi in the first of a forthcoming trilogy.” – Bethany, Head of Children’s Services and Deputy Director

Recommended for grades 5 and up, including adult readers.


To Stay Alive: Mary Ann Graves and the Tragic Journey of the Donner Party by Skila Brown

“Teen novel in verse, but with adult appeal” – Ali, Children’s Services Librarian

Poetry Books for Children

So many great poetry books and books in verse to choose from! Library staff has put together these lists for you to begin your reading adventure.

Booklist of Children’s Poetry

Children’s Novels in Verse

Library Staff Recommends:

Otters, Snails, and Tadpole Tails: Poems from the Wetlands by Eric Ode

“This simple yet beautiful book of poems explores the diversity of the wetlands through the eyes of a river otter.” – Kian, Library Assistant


Book of Questions: Selections / Libro de las preguntas: Selecciones by/por Pablo Neruda; illustrated by/ilustrado por Paloma Valdivia

“Do you love quirky, profound wonderings about the world? Are you entranced by bold, sweeping illustrations? If you answered yes, only one question remains—Why haven’t you checked out this beautiful bilingual book yet?” – Ali, Children’s Services Librarian

Recommended for ages 5+

Red, White, and Whole by Rajani LaRocca

“Reha is having a hard time navigating walking in two worlds – school and home. Her parents don’t understand her and she doesn’t understand why her parents make the decisions they do for her. All of this changes when she gets devastating news about her mother. A beautiful novel in verse about love, loss and belonging.” – Bernice, Children’s Services Librarian

Recommended for ages 9 and up

Alone by Megan Freeman

If your entire town disappeared overnight, leaving you alone, how would you fare? This novel in verse tells of Maddie’s attempt to survive.

Recommended for ages 10 – 14


Moví la mano/I Moved My Hand by Jorge Luán

“This simple poem celebrates the endless imagination of children in Spanish and English. The creative illustrations perfectly capture the little girl’s dream world.” – Mandee, Children’s Specialist

Recommended for ages 3 and up


Digger, Dozer, Dumper by Hope Vestergaard

“A extra-fun book of poetry to read aloud with truck and big machinery lovers of all ages! My boys loved this book when they were young; such fun, and well done rhymes that will require repeat readings!” – Bethany, Head of Children’s Services and Deputy Director

Films and Documentaries Featuring Stories of Poetry

Browse the shelves or search the catalog to find films and documentaries on DVD featuring poets and poetry! To find eFilms and eDocumentaries, use your library card to sign up with Kanopy, the Library’s source for free online videos. Access them on your computer, mobile device or TV.

Sue C. Boynton Poetry Contest

“Founded in 2006, the Sue C. Boynton Poetry Contest is a free annual event held each spring and open to Whatcom County, Washington, residents of all ages and all levels of experience. From each year’s submissions, two judges, respected Washington poets, select 25 winning poems. Walk Award poems are displayed for a year on the Sue Boynton Poetry Walk in front of the Bellingham Public Library (one of a growing number of permanent poetry installations in the U.S.); beautiful placards of both Walk and Merit Award poems are displayed for a year inside Whatcom Transportation Authority buses that serve routes throughout the county. Winning poets are invited to read at a public awards ceremony in May.” – from the Sue C. Boynton Poetry Contest website

A Forest of Words:

Whatcom County Teen Poetry Anthology

A Forest of Words is a teen poetry book published annually by Teen Services of the Whatcom County Library System. Area teens are invited to submit up to two of their original poems from January 1 through March 15 of each year. A panel of library staff and teens select poems based on originality, creativity, and craft. The Bellingham Public Library has copies of each year’s anthology available for you to check out.

A Forest of Words Whatcom County Teen Poetry Anthology

Local Poetry Events in April


Maureen Kane, The Phoenix Requires Ashes

Listen to local poet, Maureen Kane.

Click here for more information and to reserve your seat.

Abigail Morgan Prout, Walk Deep: Poems

Join Village Books in the Readings Gallery for another great event in the Nature of Writing series, a partnership between Village Books and the North Cascades Institute.

Click here for more information and to reserve your seat


Marie Marchand, Gifts to the Attentive

Marie Marchand will share her deeply moving collection, “Gifts to the Attentive”.

Click here for more information and to reserve your seat


Dayna Patterson and Bruce Beasley, O Lady, Speak Again, and Prayershreds

“Celebrate the Bard’s birthday with poetry inspired by Shakespearean female characters, and a collection that confronts crises of faith in our times.” – Village Books

Click here for more information and to reserve your seat


Poetry Celebration with Caitlin Scarano, Jane Wong, and Jessica Gigot

“Join us for an evening of poetry, conversation, celebration (and cake!) with three local poets. Jane Wong, Jessica Gigot, and Caitlin Scarano will share and discuss their work in an interactive, braided reading. Chat with the writers after, get your books signed, join us for refreshments, and celebrate Caitlin’s recent 2023 Pacific Northwest Book Award!” – Village Books

Click here for more information and to reserve your seat

Sati Mookherjee at the Squalicum Boathouse, Ways of Being

A launch of Sati Mookherjee’s newest poetry collection.

Click here for more information and to reserve your seat