While I may be biased as an English major to believe that fall is the best time to read poetry, the idea isn’t baseless. Fall quarter at UCR ushers in a sea of new students, new classes and new feelings for many — and quite frankly, it can feel chaotic. Professor Steven Axelrod, one of UCR’s esteemed English professors, often quotes the American poet, W.S. Merwin, inviting his students to consider how “poetry is a way of looking at the world for the first time.” Here are some poetry collection recommendations that can make you feel comforted in the profound newness of it all. 

“Violet Bent Backwards over the Grass” by Lana Del Rey

Fall is a time of in-betweenness, with the weather betwixt the past warmth and future cold, it is a perfect breeding ground for nostalgic feelings. Most people know Lana Del Rey as a singer-songwriter with a reputation for dramatic lyrical storytelling and melancholic pop music. It’s no surprise that she is also a published writer, with this poetry collection accompanied by her first spoken word album of the same title. This collection feels autumnal, as the title evokes the image of flowers weathering the cycle of life. The poems feel Whitman-esque, with “LA Who Am I to Love You” being a piece that stands out the most. If you enjoy poetry that makes you feel nostalgic for memories and experiences that aren’t even yours, this collection is for you. 

“Notes on Shapeshifting” by Gabi Abrão

Perhaps my favorite contemporary writer, Gabi Abrão, built her archive of long-form text posts and Instagram captions in preparation for this poetry collection that physicalizes the inward experiences of coming-of-age. The collection somewhat functions as a travel guide, moving between musings on physical embodiment, heartbreak and spiritual metamorphosis, giving form to the invisible energies surrounding us. In her own words, the collection “yearns to soothe and arouse.” This is the perfect poetry book to carry around in your tote bag, as it waits for you to sit down with a coffee in between classes, flipping to a random page that chooses you like a tarot deck of poems. 

“Grocery List Poems” by Rhiannon McGavin

McGavin’s collection of “scraps of the everyday” poetry takes a look at the mundanity of daily life and reorganizes it into thoughtful composition. This collection functions as a focus on language and feeling, making it perfect for readers who are eager to dip their toes into lighter poetry than the previous mentions and doesn’t skimp out on the vastness of expression. The poetry pays homage to all those who, sometimes, feel like they feel everything too deeply – and it reinforces the importance of taking a moment to look around and notice the beauty of the everyday.