When we think of poetry, usually it’s within the realm of fiction. Some people even think that’s what poetry is for, purely fictional stuff. However, poetry can also convey facts, things like history, nature, science, etc. really well. It’s called nonfiction poetry.
In this article, we’re going to take a look at what nonfiction poetry actually is, and a list of the best collections out there. Let’s get into it!
What is nonfiction poetry?
Nonfiction, by definition, is writing that is based on facts, real events and real people. Therefore, nonfiction poetry is any poem that addresses real events and people.
It’s not a new genre, really. For millennia, poets have been writing what can be easily be called “nonfiction poetry.” However, having a concrete name for those works shines a new light into poetry capabilities when it comes to nonfiction writing.
15+ best nonfiction poetry books
With all that said, you must be here to find some nonfiction poetry right? Well, we got you covered! Here are some of the best collections out there, all available on major book selling platforms.
1. Comets, Stars, the Moon and Mars by Douglas Florian
Douglas Florian is a poet and an artist. He write the poems but also painted the illustrations himself. This is a collection of his nonfiction poems about planets, comets, black holes, you know, spacy stuff. Even though the poems are not dense with scientific facts (as they should not be), there’s a glossary at the end for all the nerdy minds out there.
2. Polar Bear, Arctic Hare: Poems of the Frozen North by Eileen Spinelli
The Arctic maybe a cold and unforgiving place, but not through Eileen Spinelli’s delightful poetry. The hardy creatures of the North are captured in lovely poems that are full of playful images. In the back of the book, there are interesting facts about those creatures for the young and curious minds.
3. Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer: Spirit of the Civil Rights Movement by Carole Boston Weatherford
Fannie Lou Hamer was a champion of civil rights until her last moment. Weatherford takes us along Hamer’s life, from her sharecropper childhood to her activist life. The poems are emotional and powerful, as the author did not gloss over the incredible hardships that Hamer had been through.
4. Out of This World: Poems and Facts about Space by Amy E. Sklansky
Another poetry collection about space. Sklansky takes readers to the stars and beyond, out of this world. The poems are about all the things that an astrophile can want: the stars, the moon, rockets, satellites, you name it. And since this is a nonfiction poem collection, every poem is supported with facts and explanations on the sidebar. A perfect anchor to start your journey of studying space.
5. Eek, You Reek!: Poems about Animals That Stink, Stank, Stunk by Jane Yolen and Heidi E. Y. Stemple
Time to return to Earth, and this time, we’re going to take a look at some stinky animals. Why, you ask? Because they’re stink and fun to talk about! From birds to insects, mammals to marsupials, they all use their smells for protection, attraction and even digestion. Even though this is nonfiction poetry, it’s a lovely book with a tongue in cheek writing style from cover to cover.
6. Shaking Things Up: 14 Young Women Who Changed the World by Susan Hood
Through Shaking Things Up, Susan Hood introduces to readers fourteen revolutionary young women who changed the world. Readers are going to learn about Nellie Bly, Frida Kahlo, Annette Kellerman, Mae Jemison, to name a few women included in this book. The poems focus on each woman with with her girlhood to adult life, a real poetic celebration of women throughout history.
7. When the Sun Shines on Antarctica: And Other Poems about the Frozen Continent by Irene Latham
Time to travel to the frozen landscape of the world, Antarctica. Every plants and animals in this frigid climate are talked about in this lovely poetry collection. Latham did a great job of presenting facts alongside verse, while still make it funny and interesting. Her collection of poems introduces young readers to the rituals of Antarctica creatures throughout its freezing summer.
8. A Strange Place to Call Home: The World’s Most Dangerous Habitats & The Animals That Call Them Home by Marilyn Singer
If you think the creatures in Antarctica have it hard, wait until you read this book. In this fascinating poetry collection, Singer guides readers to learn about fourteen animals that defy the odds and thrive in Earth’s most dangerous places. The author really shows us the miracle of life and its astounding persistence.
9. Bravo! Poems About Amazing Hispanics by Margarita Engle
As the title shows, Engle’s collection is about ordinary Hispanic people but they have amazing accomplishments. The biographical poems include people like Juan de Miralles, Paulina Pedroso, Ynes Mexia, Roberto Clemente, etc. They have all kinds of profession: botanist, baseball player, pilot, etc. and come from many different backgrounds. But there’s one thing in common: their contribution to the Hispanic community that continues to evolve and thrive every day.
10. Edgar Allan Poe’s Pie: Math Puzzlers in Classic Poems by J. Patrick Lewis
No, you did not misread it. It’s really poetry about math! After decades as a professor of economics, Lewis turned to poetry. And he did an excellent job of reimagining classic poems, such as Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven, and subtly add some math into it. The poems are real brainteasers, young readers would have a great time figuring out the puzzles, they won’t know that they’re learning!
11. Superlative Birds by Leslie Bulion
A collection of poetry that combines with science. Bulion invites children of varying learning styles, worldviews, and reading preferences to study nature through their own chosen door. Have you ever wonder things like which bird has the loudest voice or which one build the biggest nest? With Superlative Birds, you’ll get to know all about the denizens of the bird world.
12. Seeds, Bees, Butterflies, and More!: Poems for Two Voices by Carole Gerber
All around us, under our feet, above our heads, thousands of interactions are taking place. Gerber’s fun collection gives readers a chance to listen in. These rhyming poems are buzzing with personalities, offer us a close up view of the plant and insect world. They provide an amazing amount of information as well, and will probably steal the hearts of readers both young and old.
13. Traveling the Blue Road: Poems of the Sea by Lee Bennett Hopkins
Hopkins’s Traveling the Blue Road is a lovely collection of poetry about the ocean. Prepared to be inspired, this book is packed with poems about courage, beauty, and promise of the sea voyages. It shows you how historically, the sea has been a metaphor for both hope and despair. The blue road can also be a pathway for people searching for new life. Oh, and did I mention that the illustrations in this book are gorgeous?
14. Silver Seeds by Paul Paolilli
Simply a beautiful poetry collection. Paolilli helps you see things through the eyes of a wondering child. Can you believe what you see? Are those stars that fill the night sky, or are they just silver seeds? The book is full of clever acrostic poems, yet simple enough for everyone to enjoy. The artwork is colorful, yet somehow feels really soft. It’s truly a relaxing book with a sense of peacefulness overall.
15. Spi-ku: A Clutter of Short Verse on Eight Legs by Leslie Bulion
Spi-ku takes you to an exploration of the bungee-jumping, silk-spinning world of spiders. Leslie Bulion is truly a master of science poetry, and his book is informative yet engaging. The poems are short, humorous and very easy to read. There are also helpful sidebars, call-outs and a glossary of science terms. Definitely a fun collection of nonfiction poetry to add to your bookshelf.
Now you know what nonfiction poetry is, I hope the list in this article give you some reading suggestions. Nonfiction doesn’t have to be all about dry and hard facts, as the poetry collections in this article prove that it can be fun and interesting as well.
If you like this article, I’ll leave you with some other ones that you might like if you’re in the mood. Happy reading!
- 7+ Loving Poems About Papa
- 9+ Best Geometry Poems That Rhyme
- 11+ Fun Poems About Pizza That You Will Like
Thomas Dao is the guy who created Poem Home, a website where people can read about all things poetry related. When he’s not busy working on his next project, you can find him reading a good book or spending time with family and friends.