Tortured Poets Collection

Taylor Swift’s new album, dropping in the middle of Poetry Month, has inspired me. Titled “Tortured Poets Department,” Swift has tapped into the spirit that moves literature lovers everywhere: beautiful words, expressive angst, magnanimous loneliness. Swift is bringing poetry mega-mainstream.

I find it somewhat comforting that someone with a net worth of more than $1 Billion can also feel tortured. But it makes me think of all the tortured poets that came before her: poets that died well before their prime, poets whose depression or psychosis was impossible to escape, poets who wrote because no one in their community could accept them for who they really were.  

It’s these poets I pay homage to through this list. May we all take more meditative moments in our days to absorb and empathize with such anguished beauty. 

Complete poems of Hart Crane

Crane, Hart, 1899-1932.

811.52 /Crane

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Not-so-fun-fact: Hart Crane’s father, Clarence Crane, invented Life Savers candy, naming them after the shape of a life preserver. Hart died by jumping off a steamship into the Gulf of Mexico.
- Melody

The colossus and other poems.

Plath, Sylvia.

811.54 /Plath

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Plath was one of my favorite poets when I was an undergrad. Reading her led me to the confessional school of poetry and other poets featured on this list.
- Melody

The collected poems of Dylan Thomas : 1934-1952.

Thomas, Dylan, 1914-1953.

821.912 /Thomas

Revenge of the lawn ; The abortion ; So the wind won't blow it all away

Brautigan, Richard.

FICTION Brautigan, Richard

Selected poems of Anne Sexton

Sexton, Anne.

811.54 /Sexton

The dream songs

Berryman, John, 1914-1972.

811.54 /Berryman

Nick Drake : the life

Morton-Jack, Richard, author.

781.66092 /Drake

"In 1968, Nick Drake had everything to live for. The product of a loving, creative family and a privileged background, he was not only a handsome and popular Cambridge undergraduate, but also a new signing to the UK's hippest record label, Island. Three years later, however--having made three well reviewed but low-selling albums--Nick had been overwhelmed by a mysterious mental illness. He returned to live in his family home in rural Warwickshire in 1971, and died in obscurity in 1974, aged just 26. In the decades since, Nick has become the subject of ever-growing fascination and speculation. Combined sales of his records now stand in the millions, his songs are frequently heard on TV and in films, and he has become one of the most widely known and admired singer-songwriters of his generation. Nick Drake: The Life is the only biography of Nick to be written with the blessing and involvement of his sister and estate. Drawing on copious original research and new interviews with his family, friends, and musical collaborators, as well as deeply personal archive material unavailable to previous writers--including his father's diaries, his essays, and private correspondence--this is the most comprehensive and authoritative account possible of Nick's short and enigmatic life."--Publisher.

Five leaves left

Drake, Nick, 1948-1974.



Cobain, Kurt, 1967-1994.

781.66092 /Cobain