A couple of years ago, I wrote a poem about poetry and the importance it has in our world, and in that poem, I expressed the idea that poetry is a language in itself. Admittedly, that’s not a terribly unique idea; however, it’s one I strongly believe in. Poetry is the language of so many different facets of the human experience, from hope and healing to death and grief, and from resistance and revolution to self-love and romantic love. As some of you may or may not know, I love love. So much so, in fact, that I wrote a collection of poetry titled DROPKICKromance which focuses on two of the most significant relationships in my life, the second of the two being my relationship with my wife and fellow poet, Amanda Lovelace.
In DROPKICKromance, I build on that idea of poetry being a language in a poem titled “you are living, breathing poetry.” In it, I write “no, turning the good / into poetry / is much more difficult, // because these moments / are already poetic, /and putting them into words // is like translating / from one language / to another / and something always / gets lost in translation.” All of this is to say that writing about love is difficult for me because I never feel as if I’ve truly captured the feeling with words. However, there are many poets who do it so much better than I could, so here’s some of my personal favorite contemporary love poems!
No list of love poems would be complete without mention of Lang Leav. I had such a hard time choosing just one poem to put in this list because they’re all so great, but I chose this one particularly because of the way she articulates the undying nature of true love. While love can and does die, true love is forever.
“Proximity” by Michael Faudet, who just so happens to be the partner of Lang Leav, is one love poem that has resonated so deeply with me, particularly because it deals with the theme of crossing a great distance to be with the one you love. I love this one so much that I even read it during mine and Amanda’s wedding!
Caitlyn Siehl is one poet who never ceases to amaze me. Every time I read her work, I am literally shaken to my core. “Mythology” isn’t just my favorite love poem by her, but it’s one of my favorites overall, and if you think it’s good on paper, wait until you hear her read it!
I don’t think there’s a single poet who captures the raw nature of love quite like Trista Mateer. As a reader, she makes me feel things for people I’ve never ever met, and as a writer, she’s someone who’s been very inspiring to me in my own writing, especially as I put together my second collection of poetry.
I love “The Sun and the Moon” by Nikita Gill because she does an amazing job at showing you what real love should look like. Love shouldn’t feel restrictive. It should be free, it should be without judgement, and it should be unconditional.
Like Nikita’s poem, K.Y. Robinson captures a similar sentiment in “dear future lover,” by instead showing us what an unhealthy relationship looks like. Despite what Pat Benatar says, love should in fact not be a battlefield, but a time of peace.
During my most recent poetry writing class, my professor told us that when we find a poem we wish we had written ourselves, to study it, deconstruct it, and learn how they wrote it. Iain S. Thomas is one of the few writers who I wish I had written every single thing they’ve ever put out. I first heard “Shoulder, Shoulder, Slow, Slow” when he read it at the Poetry Powerhouses event at the Strand Book Store this past May, and it’s stuck with me ever since.
Not all love is romantic. Self-love is something many people, myself included, deal with on a daily basis. “some kind of self love” by Gretchen Gomez stood out to me because it doesn’t tell you how to find self-love as that is a journey unique to everyone, but instead, helps you recognize what it feels like, and the importance of holding onto that when you have it. Make sure you click the link above to see the poem in its entirety.
I really love how R.H. Swaney is able to capture such a small, intimate moment—the dance of the flower petals, and the recreation of the dance in the speaker’s living room. So much emotion can be conveyed in a poem by focusing on the smallest details.
I couldn’t write a list of love poems without mentioning my wife. Though Amanda has written many love poems about me, this is the one I hold closest to my heart. October is by far the most significant month in our relationship, and it became even more so this past October, where we got married on our five year anniversary.