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Poems About the Beach

6 minute read

Poetry About the Beach

(…or poetry to read on the beach, OR poetry to read pretending you are at the beach … you deserve that much at least!)

I am fortunate enough to live 30 minutes from the beach. This is far enough away to make me feel comfortable during hurricane season and helps me avoid high-traffic areas, but it is also close enough that I can pop over after a rough day, plop down a blanket, and recharge with a good book while the waves roll relentlessly in and out.

I wouldn’t consider myself a “deep” person, I’m not big on self-reflection except at one place and one place only — with my toes in the sand and the sounds of the waves crushing in front of me. So for me, the beach and a volume of poetry go hand in hand. Throw in a waterfront crab shack with tasty apps and cold drinks, and that is truly my idea of heaven on Earth.

The books you read AT the beach don’t have to be ABOUT water. You aren’t doomed to a life choosing between The Rime of the Ancient Mariner or The Old Man and the Sea. Whether you are a seasoned poetry reader or just dipping your toes, throw one of these books in your beach bag and get ready for the ultimate meditation opportunity.


Andrea Gibson – You’d Better Be Lightning

Andrea Gibson (they/them) is a celebrated activist and an accomplished poet with five full-length published collections. They are also the current Colorado Poet Laureate and the winner of the first Women’s World Poetry Slam. Their latest collection, 2021’s critically acclaimed You Better Be Lightning is a feminist collection that looks at the scope of the queer experience as a whole. It explores self love, familial love, societal love, and romantic love in a brand-new way.

Once you’ve savored every word, pick up 2018’s Take Me With You. It’s our favorite Gibson backlist title!


“Before I die, I want to be somebody’s favorite hiding place, the place they can put everything they know they need to survive.”


Aimee Nezhukumatathil – Oceanic

It might be a little bit on-the-nose with our theme, but Oceanic is a must-have beach read. Aimee Nezhukumatathil crafts what is called “research poetry” by focusing on all of the abundance of the natural world. This collection invites readers into the deep water and blurs the line between ocean life and humanity. Natural cycles and the turning of the Earth, meditations on the meaning of family and relationships, and the promise that the sun will rise again weave through this lush, imaginative examination of the most basic building blocks of life.

“There is a time for stillness, but who hasn’t also wanted to scream with delight at being outdoors? To simply announce themselves and say, I’m here, I exist?”




Lindsey Martin-Bowen – Where Water Meets the Rock

This magical book contains three sections that closely align with the human experience and is one that I recommend frequently for anyone struggling with grief. “Erosion” memorializes three tragic Greek personas, the breakneck pace of “Frenzies” illustrates the chaos of the living after a deep loss. “On the Shore” features poems that promote the personal growth and healing many of us feel after losing a loved one.

A recurring sea-rock metaphor provides anchorage through this this book, encouraging readers to stand fast as the waves break around you because this too shall pass. Recuperation following tragedy is possible, and Martin-Bowen wants you to remain open to it.

“She stops and looks into my eyes. We do not speak but know.”



Elizabeth Acevedo – The Poet X

This isn’t a “collection”, but this novel-in-verse packs a powerful punch. Winner of the Printz Award, the Pura Belpré Award, and the National Book Award, The Poet X was written by an award-winning Afro-Latina heroine who faces the truth with blazing words as she outgrows her neighborhood and her body at the same time.

All Mami cares about is Xiomara’s church attendance, so there is no way that an after-school poetry club is an option for her. But Xiomara is done being silent, about living in Harlem, about having a curvy body, and what if feels like to have feelings for a person that your family would never accept or embrace. She thinks that slam poetry might be the perfect outlet for her. But how can she use a voice that no one even knows that she possesses?

Pro tip: obviously the sound of the surf is part of the beach-reading charm, but treat yourself to a listen of this audiobook once the sand is off your feet.

Elizabeth Acevedo was also feature on Poems to Celebrate Hispanic Heritage. View here.


Rupi Kaur – Milk and Honey

And then there Rupi Kaur. We all love Rupi. I mean there must be something exceptional about a poetry-and-prose collection that sells over 3 million copies worldwide! Rupi Kaur was named by The New Republic as “the Writer of the Decade” and her explorations of universal themes like love, loss, femininity, violence, fear, and ultimately, survival.

Milk and Honey feels like someone was able to live in your grieving brain for a moment. Each of the four sections deals with a different heartache than the one before, but no less bitter. Read this one out loud by the water if you can, shouting these words at the unceasing waves is crazily therapeutic.

“i want to apologize to all the women i have called beautiful before i’ve called them intelligent or brave”

We have plenty of Rupi Kaur content for you to fan girl (or guy) over! Rupi Kaur’s Poetry To Soothe Your Hearts

 15 Inspiring Rupi Kaur Poems When You Need a Pep Talk

 20 of Rupi Kaur’s Best Poetry Collections

 Poetry To Read If You Love Rupi Kaur

Poetry is for everyone! Enjoy it anywhere! A heart-stirring poems about the beach is definitely a summer read. More on nature and the outdoors here!

Alissa S.