Poems and poetry collections for navigating grief and loss

A crowdsourced selection from getsomejoy’s griefKit.

Because sometimes a verse is the only way through.

More from the griefKit: Overview | Introduction | Articles + Essays | Books | Communities + Tools | Mindful Movement | Music + Podcasts | Poetry | Recipes | Submit a resource


Missing You” by Arielle Danzy

One Art by Elizabeth Bishop

Smells of the Present Moment” by Sagirah Shahid

What The Living Do” by Marie Howe

A Bronzeville Mother Loiters in Mississippi. Meanwhile, A Mississippi Mother Burns Bacon” by Gwendolyn Brooks

Lotioning My Mother’s Back by Ama Codjoe

Death in Parentheses by Yuki Tanaka

Witness by Phillip B. Williams

Letter from my Heart to my Brain by Rachel McKibbens

Letter from my Brain to my Heart” by Rachel McKibbens

“When the wound is deep, the healing is heroic. Suffering and ascendance require the same work.”

Terrance Hayes, American Sonnets for My Past and Future Assassin

Poetry Collections

Check your local library or purchase from the retailer of your choice.

Half Woman Half Grief

by Maya Kalaria

“This powerfully vulnerable book invites us to grieve. Having lost her mother at the age of nine, Maya has spent her life navigating her way through the myriad of emotions which surround death. In her debut collection of poetry, she maps her journey into the mysterious underworld of grief and the extraordinary lessons she learned in the darkness. Maya is a woman of colour, a poet, a writer, and has helped to support people's mental wellbeing as an engagement worker and hypnotherapist. She has also spoken on the radio about grief, identity and bullying."

Ink Pens & Permanent Thought

by Ronald Jolla, Jr.

Inkpens & Permanent Thought - a mixture of poetry and prose, composed by life, love, and death. While we have many ever-evolving thoughts, some remain permanently etched in the fabric of our being.”

The Day of Shelly's Death: The Poetry and Ethnography of Grief

by Renato Rosaldo

This deeply moving collection of poetry by Renato Rosaldo focuses on the shock of his wife Michelle (Shelly) Rosaldo's sudden death on October 11, 1981.

Just the day before, Shelly and her family had arrived in the northern Philippine village of Mungayang, where she and her husband Renato, both accomplished anthropologists, planned to conduct fieldwork. On October 11, Shelly died after losing her footing and falling some sixty feet from a cliff into a swollen river.

In the poems at the heart of this book, he returns to the trauma of Shelly's death through the medium of free verse, maintaining a tight focus on the events of October 11, 1981.”

When She Leaves Me: A Story Told In Poems

by Benjamin Gorman

“In his debut collection, Gorman relays the story of a shocking dissolution of two decades of marriage and his long crawl back to hope. Unflinching, unflattering, stunned and angry and selfish and ultimately generous, the poetry is aimed at readers open to empathy who can nourish their souls on a journey of healing.”

Bluest Nude

by Ama Codjoe

Ama Codjoe’s highly anticipated debut collection brings generous light to the inner dialogues of women as they bathe, create art, make and lose love. Each poem rises with the urgency of a fully awakened sensual life.

Codjoe’s poems explore how the archetype of the artist complicates the typical expectations of women: be gazed upon, be silent, be selfless, reproduce. Dialoguing with and through art, Bluest Nude considers alternative ways of holding and constructing the self. From Lorna Simpson to Gwendolyn Brooks to Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, contemporary and ancestral artists populate Bluest Nude in a choreography of Codjoe’s making. Precise and halting, this finely wrought, riveting collection is marked by an acute rendering of highly charged emotional spaces.”

American Sonnets for My Past and Future Assassin

by Terrance Hayes
“In seventy poems bearing the same title, Terrance Hayes explores the meanings of American, of assassin, and of love in the sonnet form. Written during the first two hundred days of the Trump presidency, these poems are haunted by the country's past and future eras and errors, its dreams and nightmares.”

Explore the griefKit: Overview | Introduction | Articles + Essays | Books | Communities + Tools | Mindful Movement | Music + Podcasts | Poetry | Recipes | Submit a resource


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