Today is World Poetry Day! Some of my earliest writing was poetry. I mean very early — elementary school, middle school, etc. I have notebooks at my parent’s house with all of my emotions in verse. Some are good. Most aren’t. But poetry was always a nice way for me to write out anything weird or crazy I was feeling, in a way that was less concrete than an essay or a diary entry. Other times, it was a way for me to capture a sight, moment, or memory in a different way.
I don’t write as much poetry as I used to, but when I do, it’s more of the snapshots of memories, or something altogether made up — a short story in verse. I still think my strength is in prose, but sometimes, the best way to tell the story I want to tell is in metered verse.
Sadly, I don’t read as much poetry as I could. I read quickly, and as such, it’s hard for me to slow down and really absorb the gravitas of the verses. Other times, the poems are so over my head that, while they sound nice, I don’t really get them. Most of the time, I admire a poem more than I feel it.
Then I discovered horror poetry.
I didn’t discover horror poetry until late — as in, last year. I’d read bleak poetry and dark poetry before, but never a collection marketed as poems meant to scare you. I’m glad I found it, though, because I found myself connecting with horror poetry in ways I hadn’t connected with other poems before.
While some deal with monsters, many still focus on the terrifying things we feel or experience in real life. I think I connect with this more than other forms of verse because I’m drawn to extremes, especially when describing experiences. My own struggles with anxiety fuel both my work and what I like to read or watch. While non-horror poems cover that, the horror poetry I’ve read cover it with a harshness, a viscerality (I hope that’s a word), and a sense of fright that I haven’t encountered elsewhere — but one I find myself able to connect with deeply, even if that connection is a shared feeling of fear.
I also enjoy horror poetry that tells stories, be they fiction or nonfiction. I like seeing the unique way that poetry can tell a classic horror tale, in ways that give anything from serial killers to demonic possession to vampires a refreshing twist.
For World Poetry Day, I highly recommend you check out some of the horror poetry collections below:
Breathe. Breathe. — a collection of poetry and short stories from Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi.
The Devil’s Dreamland — a series of poems that chronicle the life, death, and murders of H.H. Holmes; from Sara Tantlinger.
How to Recognize a Demon Has Become Your Friend — another blend of poems and short stories, interspersed with one another; by Linda Addison.
What are some of your favorite horror poetry collections?