Find new poetry to explore based on your zodiac sign.
Whether or not you put stock in astrology, there are some interesting lessons to be learned from the archetypes within each astrological sign. From Scorpio’s hunger for transformation to Virgo’s tendency toward the analytical, we can perhaps identify a part of ourselves within each sun sign. And when we meditate on what those qualities mean (or what we could learn from them), we can achieve a deeper understanding of self.
Each of the below poetry books is aligned with a specific sign — not because of the poet’s sun sign, but because the content of the book aligns with a certain sign’s energy. Of course, there is no neat or tidy way to associate an entire book with one sign (just as there’s so much more to a person than one’s sun sign). That’s just not possible! Rather, this is a taste of contemporary and canonical poets through a lens of astrology. Have fun with it, discover new books, and live a poetic life.
Aries: Don’t Call Us Dead: Poems by Danez Smith
With Aries’ confident, stubborn nature, you want a poetry that doesn’t allow you to look away. Aries’ fiery energy begs for a fiery language, something that inhabits the here and now. Something that gives birth to possibility. Don’t Call Us Dead: Poems by Danez Smith is that book.
It presents us with momentum, action, and in its power and vulnerability asks to make a change in ourselves and on a social level. It asks to step up and demand more, demand healing, demand reclamation, demand attention for those that have been forgotten or erased. And it won’t stop. It won’t give up.
A true lover of beauty and tradition, Taurus relishes scents and sounds and pleasures of the skin. But they also want mental stimulation and imagery that can send them into sensory overload. To fulfill their desire for the grounded but pastoral, Mary Oliver’s focus on the sacredness of nature. Her poetic exploration of nature offers the Taurus the ability to smell the roses, hear the sea, and find the divine in Mother Earth. It is a book of wildness, humanity, and the spectacular language of the natural world.
Gemini: Ventrakl by Christian Hawkey
Ventrakl by Christian Hawkey is a conversation, a summoning, a translation — between author Christian Hawkey and George Trakl, a 19th-century Austrian poet. The poems are often “translated” (literally but mostly by other means) from Trakl’s own work and are displayed alongside images. Poems by Trakl are shot at via a gun and the remaining text is reassembled into a new poem, for example. This book — with its innovative nature — will speak to Gemini’s gift for communication and invention and it will call to Gem’s adaptable, dual nature.
Cancer: The Complete Poems by John Keats
One of the most well-beloved poets of all time, Keats poems evoke the passage of time, mortality — he himself died young and both his mother and father passed when he was a child — splendor, an human suffering. A Romantic poet, Keats’ deep well of emotional aptitude will speak to Cancer’s need for depth and truth (even though Keats himself was born a Halloween Scorpio). In his words, the Cancer’s sensitivity and need for vulnerability will find a wellspring of aching beauty. And as a Scorpio, Keats’ intensity will speak the language of any water sign.
With Leo’s charisma, fire, and sense of self-worth, this fiery sign will respond to Chisala’s A Fire Like You, a poetry collection of self, a look at the great possibility of who we are. It is a sort of incantation spoken aloud for personal power — and what could be more Leo, than standing in that space of worthiness?
Virgo: A Little White Shadow by Mary Ruefle
Virgos will appreciate Ruefle’s deft ability to create poignant, highly meticulous erasure poetry — a style of poetry that marks or blanks out words or text from a specific work or works to create an altogether new work. With precision, Ruefle cuts and hacks 1889’s A Little White Shadow by Emily Malbone Morgan, revealing something entirely new. This is a methodical and specific work, haunted by the days of old — yet born by a new hand — and any Virgo interested in precision work will find the beauty here.
The Libra craves beauty, conversation — and diplomacy. They hold duality in their hands. They can also live their lives as a poem — romantic and melodramatic and intense. And so Loose Woman, a canonical work by Sandra Cisneros, speaks to the Libra’s great balancing act. It is at once a book about love and sex as well the exploration of the Mexican-American identity. It is ripe with beauty and abundant in fervor. The Libra can take this book to all their friends and spend all night over a bottle of wine discussing its glory.
Scorpio: Ascend Ascend by Janaka Stucky
Janaka Stucky’s new release, Ascend Ascend is peak Scorpio; written in a century-old church by Stucky while in trance states over the course of a little over two weeks, the text is a conjuring — of the divine, of the self, and of the two, intertwined. This is ecstatic poetry that pulls you into the depths, transcendent.
With Scorpio’s ultimate and innate need for transformation, this is a holy text to be recited and to be felt in the blood. To read it is to participate in poetry’s ritualistic magic.
Rumi’s poetry is deeply spiritual — characterized by a seeking and a longing for something more. It has often been misinterpreted, but its layers run deep, begging to be seen through a lens of divinity and existentialism. It is concerned with the beyondness of being. Sagittarius has always been seen as a very philosophical, wise and spiritual, sign— and, much like Rumi’s poetry of this world and beyond, Sag has one foot here and another out there — half centaur, half-man. This poetry, and the Sag, exist in a liminal space.
The Capricorn, an earthly creature — reliable and rugged, connected the grass and rocks and divinity of nature — will connect with Joy Harjo‘s work, informed by native traditions and myths. Her work speaks to personal transformation and authenticity and the very real world of landscape and culture. Capricorn will appreciate its earthbound truth and power.
This experimental poem-but-also-a-novel (it really is both) transcends genre, although poetry is truly its blood. Readers are treated to the myth of Geryon (a winged monster). In it, you’ll find fragments of the poem Geryoneis. Between the airy elements of the winged monster and the story’s focus on survival, creativity, the search for self, and the text’s disregard for compartmentalized genres, this is the book for any Aquarius.
In Etel Adnan’s book Night, the reader will find a sort of book-long poem steeped in the body, the divine spirit, and the grand mystery of everything. Perfect for a Pisces’ dreamy and intuitive nature, this book examines memory and God. It connects to something deeper; Adnan translates nature and receives the messages of the universe.