Verse Novels for National Poetry Month

Looking to add something to your nightstand reading to commemorate National Poetry Month, but long for the narrative pull of a good novel? Welcome to the world of novels in verse, a fascinating corner of the fictional universe that picks up where classic verse epics and other traditional narrative poetry leaves off. No matter your taste, you’ll find something among these excellent verse novels from the past year or two for you to try:

The Last One, by Fatima Daas. Drawn from the author’s experiences growing up in a Paris banlieue, a powerful, lyric debut that explores the diverse, often conflicting facets of her identity–French, Algerian, Muslim, lesbian.

The Call-Out: A Novel in Rhyme, by Cat Fitzpatrick.  A novel written in verse that recalls the Pushkin’s classic Eugene Onegin, but in place of  Russian aristocrats crudely solved their disagreements with pistols, the participants in this rhyming drama have developed a more refined weapon, the online call-out, a cancel-culture staple.

Hourglass, by Keiran Goddard. Exquisitely crafted, richly imagined, and as funny as it is moving, Hourglass is an unusual and uniquely told love story. Turning time upside down, it combs the wreckage of personal heartbreak for something universal and asks what it means to lose what you love.

The Night Library of Sternendach: A Vampire Opera in Verse, by Jessica Levai. Kunigunde is destined to become the next in a long line of Heller clan vampire hunters, but her soul is drawn to books, poetry, and the vampire Graf, in this unabashedly melodramatic opera-in-sonnets.

Dreaming of You: A Novel in Verse, by Melissa Lozada-Oliva. A young Latinx poet grappling with loneliness and heartache decides one day to bring Tejano pop star Selena Quintanilla back to life. The seance kicks off an uncanny trip narrated by a Greek chorus of gossiping spirits as she journeys through a dead celebrity prom, encounters her shadow self, and performs karaoke in hell.

Poguemahone, by Pat McCabe. A verse epic for the 21st century, Poguemahone combines the fragmentation of cummings and Williams and the spontaneity of Ginsberg and Ferlinghetti with a soundtrack by Mott the Hoople, then douses it in whisky and sets it on fire.

Angel & Hanna, by Ishle Yi Park. Told in seasons, this hip-hop love story follows Hannah, a Korean American girl from Queens, New York, and Angel, a Puerto Rican boy from Brooklyn, as their forbidden love wildly blooms along the Jackie Robinson Expressway in the spring of 1993.

The Perfect Nine: The Epic of Gĩkũyũ and Mũmbi, by Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o. This verse narrative, blending folklore, mythology, adventure, and allegory, tells the story of the founding of the Gikuyu people of Kenya, from a strongly feminist perspective.

Find still more intriguing novels in verse here.

      ~ Posted by David W.

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