The best books on Virgil, recommended by Sarah Ruden

Virgil is one of the most influential poets in the history of Western literature. Here, another poet, Sarah Ruden, talks about the challenges of translating the Aeneid and why, although we know little about Virgil as a man, his great poem’s take on the violence and power struggles it depicts is deeply ambivalent.

The Best Poetry Books of 2020, recommended by Alexandra Harris

Each year, the judges for the Forward Prize select a shortlist of the best new poetry books. In 2020, they chose five collections ranging in tone from epic love songs to domestic surrealism. Alexandra Harris, chair of the judges, tells us what they admired about each book.

Sylvia Plath Books, recommended by Tim Kendall

Though biographical sensation has often diverted attention from her work, Sylvia Plath remains one of the finest lyric poets of the twentieth century, argues Professor Tim Kendall, Academic Director of Arts and Culture at Exeter and author of Sylvia Plath: A Critical Study. Here, he recommends the best places to start (or return to) with Plath, from a fresh look at Ariel to illuminating an oft-overlooked, brilliant appendix in her unabridged journals.

The best books on Shakespeare’s Sonnets, recommended by Scott Newstok

The beauty of Shakespeare’s sonnets speaks to us down the centuries, their lines peaking out at us from the titles of famous books or enjoying outings at weddings or other romantic occasions. But they were not always regarded as perfectly-formed jewels, and the relationships they portray not as conventional as many of us presume. Here, Shakespeare scholar Scott Newstok talks us through books that help us learn more about Shakespeare’s sonnets, from the best introduction to the poems for students through to their afterlife and recent creative interpretations.

The Best Poetry Books of 2019, recommended by Simone White

New collections of poetry are increasingly pushing the bounds of language and performance in intelligent, creative, perceptive ways, says Simone White, a poet and Assistant Professor of English at the University of Pennsylvania. Here, she recommends some of her favorite poetry books published (or republished) in 2019.

The best books on The Odyssey, recommended by Emily Wilson

The Odyssey has been constantly rewritten by centuries of writers, but like so much of Greek myth, it's always already open to revising its own narrative. Emily Wilson, Professor of Classics at the University of Pennsylvania and the first woman to translate the Odyssey into English, recommends the best books to read after (or alongside) the Ancient Greek epic, and offers sage wisdom about both translating ancient epics and why everyone can learn from the Odyssey today.

Stephanie Burt on Contemporary American Poetry

As distinctions between traditional and avant-garde, central and marginal dissolve, poet and critic Stephanie Burt discusses some of America’s most exciting contemporary poets, who are speaking to and from diverse experiences and backgrounds – sometimes with a disco beat

The Best Samuel Taylor Coleridge Books, recommended by Seamus Perry

The reputation of Romantic poet, critic and philosopher Samuel Taylor Coleridge has long been overshadowed by William Wordsworth, his friend and Lyrical Ballads co-author. Oxford professor Seamus Perry talks us through the books that showcase Coleridge’s idiosyncratic brilliance.  

Troilus and Criseyde by Geoffrey Chaucer: A Reading List, recommended by Jenni Nuttall

Troilus and Criseyde has a centuries’ old backstory. Long before Renaissance dramas or realist novels, Chaucer wrote a love story set in a besieged city that was a deep psychological exploration of character and human relationships. Jenni Nuttall, author of Troilus and Criseyde: A Reader’s Guide, shares her reading recommendations after over a decade of teaching the poem to Oxford undergraduates.

The Best Prose Poetry, recommended by Jeremy Noel-Tod

It’s not quite poetry, yet not quite prose: the prose poem is “the defining poetic invention of modernity,” argues Jeremy Noel-Tod, editor of The Penguin Book of the Prose Poem. Here he chooses five of the best prose poems from Arthur Rimbaud to Claudia Rankine.

The Best Poetry to Read in 2019, recommended by Jamie McKendrick

Looking for recent collections of poetry to read this year? Longtime Faber poet and virtuosic translator Jamie McKendrick recommends the five best poetry books he’s read in the last year, from a peculiar book of grief by Anne Carson to a long-awaited volume by Michael Hofmann.

The Best American Poetry, recommended by Elisa New

With the help of a good anthology and a heaping dose of American classics, anyone can be converted to being a lover of poetry. Elisa New, Harvard scholar and host of the new PBS series Poetry in America, recommends her favorite American poets, from Emily Dickinson to Elizabeth Bishop.

The best books on Poetry, recommended by John F Deane

The Irish poet and writer finds inspiration in the work of friends and fellow poets who combine relishing the wonders of the physical universe with a mystic, religious side – all best discussed over a few pints

The Best Poetry Books of 2017, recommended by Susannah Herbert

Poetry book sales are bigger this year than ever before, and the form is ‘about to reach many, many more people,’ says the head of the Forward Arts Foundation. Here’s a diagnosis of the year in poetry – and a prescription for years to come  

The best books on Dante, recommended by Nick Havely

Dante’s epic poem The Divine Comedy has inspired countless thinkers and writers since it was first published almost 700 years ago. Here, Dante scholar and author Nick Havely picks the best five books on how one medieval poet had such a lasting impact on world literature, and how Dante’s vitality transmits into modern culture.

The Greatest Romantic Poems, recommended by Gillen D'Arcy Wood

Freud said he owed them everything and even people who have never read a poem in their lives speak their language today. Gillen D’Arcy Wood, Professor of Environmental Humanities and English at the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign, explains who the Romantic poets were and recommends five of the greatest Romantic poems.