National Poetry Month

Team Favorites: Dark Poetry Collections We’ve Loved

We’re just over halfway through National Poetry Month, and we’ve LOVED seeing everything you’ve been reading! Several of our team members are avid poetry readers, so being able to share our love of the genre with all of you for an entire month is such a highlight (even though we’re totally still gonna keep sharing them throughout the rest of the year, too!).

Today, we’ve got another big round up of some of the Ladies of Horror Fiction team’s favorite dark poetry collections for you—let us know if you see any favorites here!


Poetry Collections We’ve Loved & Would Highly Recommend:

Photos by Cassie and Jen

About the Book:

Hold your screams and enter a world of seasonal creatures, dreams of bones, and confessions modeled from open eyes and endless insomnia. Christina Sng’s A Collection of Nightmares is a poetic feast of sleeplessness and shadows, an exquisite exhibition of fear and things better left unsaid. Here are ramblings at the end of the world and a path that leads to a thousand paper cuts at the hands of a skin carver. There are crawlspace whispers, and fresh sheets gently washed with sacrifice and poison, and if you’re careful in this ghost month, these poems will call upon the succubus to tend to your flesh wounds and scars.

These nightmares are sweeping fantasies that electrocute the senses as much as they dull the ache of loneliness by showing you what’s hiding under your bed, in the back of your closet, and inside your head. Sng’s poems dissect and flower, her autopsies are delicate blooms dressed with blood and syntax. Her words are charcoal and cotton, safe yet dressed in an executioner’s garb.

Dream carefully.
You’ve already made your bed.
The nightmares you have now will not be kind.
And you have no one to blame but yourself.

Goodreads | Bookshop

Team Reviews:

From Emily:

I think that A Collection of Nightmares would be a great introduction to someone who wants to try out horror poetry, but maybe doesn’t want to get into super gory material just yet. This book is definitely dark, but it’s not as bleak as some others I have read. There’s still some hope in these poems even though they are focused on nightmares. A Collection of Nightmares is a great book, and I would love to read more from Christina Sng!

Check out Emily’s full review here!

From Cassie:

This is my second book of poetry by Christina Sng, and it absolutely will not be my last: she has this haunting, ethereal way of describing things in her poems that makes each read so mysterious and comforting at the same time. Although some of the themes in the poems are quite dark, this isn’t an overly gory or “extreme” type of poetry collection. More like dark, sci-fi fairy tales—and I loved it!

Check out Cassie’s full review here!

Photo by Jen

About the Book:

Cynthia Pelayo constructs a narrative in her poetry in response to the work of Jorge Luis Borges that examines the themes and subsequent consequences of insomnia, death, and blindness. There’s a visionary quality to her work that dances along the line between the present world that we inhabit and the other world that lingers beyond the veil. Her poetry folds back this blanket of darkness, and shows readers the quiet violence and beauty that hides beneath waiting to be exposed, experienced, and encompassed.

Goodreads | Bookshop

Team Reviews:

From Emily:

My favorite thing about Poems of My Night were the descriptions of human relationships. There is some pain in these poems, and Cina’s writing is honest and relatable. My top 5 poems in this collection were Los espejos, Dos formas de insomnio, Mi vida entera, Curso de los recuerdos, and Los enigmas.

Check out Emily’s full review here!

Photos by Cassie and Jen

About the Book:

Exposed Nerves continues the explorations into dark poetry by Stoker Award winner and Shirley Jackson Award nominee Lucy A. Snyder, pairing the author’s sly wordplay and imagery with grim introspection. By turns challenging, wryly amusing and gut-wrenching, Snyder’s work plumbs bittersweet catharsis and maps a survivor’s path through dangerous worlds, both the real and the horrifically imagined.

Goodreads | Bookshop

Team Reviews:

From Alex:

Lucy Snyder’s collection of poems, Exposed Nerves, is another example upon many of how talented she is with wordsmithing and phrasing. This collection is a full of biting examples on social commentary and the daily horrors we face. Something doesn’t have to be dripping with blood or chasing you with a knife to be scary.

Check out Alex’s full review here!

Photo by Audra

About the Book:

Who doesn’t need to know How To Recognize A Demon Has Become Your Friend? From the first African-American to receive the HWA Bram Stoker award, this collection of both horror and science fiction short stories and poetry reveals demons in the most likely people (like a jealous ghost across the street) or in unlikely places (like the dimension-shifting dreams of an American Indian). Recognition is the first step, what you do with your friends/demons after that is up to you.

Goodreads | Amazon

Team Reviews:

From Emily:

How to Recognize a Demon Has Become Your Friend is a collection of horror & sci-fi poetry and short stories from Linda Addison. I believe this is the first time I’ve read Linda’s work, and I loved it so much! She is so talented at writing both short stories and poetry, and the book switches between the two seamlessly.

Check out Emily’s full review here!

From Alex:

This is the first collection of horror poetry/short stories that I have read and it just opened up a whole new world for me! I was impressed with the tales and short stories, but the poetry was even better than I could have imagined! I had no idea just how dark and twisted poetry could be.

Check out Alex’s full review here!

From Audra:

A collection of poetry and short stories, this collection of horror fiction is definitely worth checking out for any fan of the genre.

What I loved best about these stories is that though they all contain dark themes, Addison brings a different dimension to each story. Some are hilarious and some are heartbreaking. Some delve into the supernatural and others offer more realistic horror. This collection definitely held my interest just because I had no idea what was coming next!

Check out Audra’s full review here!

Photos by Cassie and Audra

About the Book:

H.H. Holmes committed ghastly crimes in the late 19th century. Many of which occurred within his legendary “Murder Castle” in Chicago, Illinois. He is often considered America’s first serial killer. In her second book of poetry from Strangehouse Books, Sara Tantlinger (Love For Slaughter) takes inspiration from accounts and tales which spawned from the misdeeds of one Herman Webster Mudgett, better known as Dr. Henry Howard Holmes. Fact and speculation intertwine herein, just as they did during the man’s own lifetime. There’s plenty of room in the cellar for everyone in The Devil’s Dreamland

Goodreads | Bookshop

Team Reviews:

From Tracy:

If you are like me, and poetry isn’t your jam—consider giving this a try. Tantlinger plays with form and substance. Some of the poems are sparse and chilling, others are more prose-like, and ALL of them are accessible and engrossing.

Check out Tracy’s full review here!

From Emily:

Sara’s research was so in-depth, and you can see the love she had for this project poured out into the pages. Although the poems have a fictional twist, they are organized by chronological events, and the book tells HH Holmes’ full life story. I loved that it was set up in this way, and it was like reading a fictional novel about a true crime story told through poems.

I loved that so many poems were from different points of view—you are not in Holmes’ head the entire time. Some of them are focused on the people and things around him, and Sara did an amazing job at weaving together as complete of a story on Holmes as possible.

Check out Emily’s full review here!

From Audra:

If you are perhaps a bit afraid of poetry, this collection is a wonderful example of how poems don’t have to be obfuscating. Tantlinger’s use of language is measured, image-driven, and often playful, and her attention to line breaks and spacing give the lines fresh readings upon closer inspection.

Check out Audra’s full review here!

Photo by Cassie

About the Book:

From Claire C. Holland, a timely collection of poetry that follows the final girl of slasher cinema – the girl who survives until the end—on a journey of retribution and reclamation. From the white picket fences of 1970s Haddonfield to the apocalyptic end of the world, Holland confronts the role of women in relation to subjects including feminism, violence, motherhood, sexuality, and assault in the world of Trump and the MeToo movement. Each poem centers on a fictional character from horror cinema, and explores the many ways in which women find empowerment through their own perceived monstrousness.

Goodreads | Amazon

Team Reviews:

From Audra:

These are emotional and resonant poems that get to the heart of what it means to be someone who has experienced something traumatic. Through the use of horror films, Holland has also captured a piece of the current socio-political trauma in these pages, and that’s powerful, not only as an argument for why horror is important, but for how we can continue to fight back as creators, artists, and women.

Check out Audra’s full review here!

From Cassie:

Holland’s introduction is an honest and raw almost call-to-action about the strength of being a woman, and how much it sometimes sucks for us in this day and age. The pressure of what it means to be a “woman” is sometimes too much to bear—from being told how we should look, act, dress, or talk, to being terrified of walking to our cars alone in the dark at night. The bond we share with each other—and with the final girls on these pages—is one that can only be strengthened by coming together, being vocal about what’s wrong, supporting one another, and fighting back. I loved this intro—it was an incredible start to an amazing collection, and I want to be best friends with the author.

Check out Cassie’s full review here!

From Emily:

Some of these poems hit very close to home. Claire’s writing is honest, and the poems are so relevant. Some of them felt so personal, and at times it’s jarring to read your own truth laid out by someone else. The poems have a lot to say about both our strengths and our vulnerabilities, and how these two aspects of ourselves work together to form a complete person. I believe that this book gives a call to stand up & fight for yourself.

Check out Emily’s full review here!

Photos by Cassie and Jen

About the Book:

The Apocalyptic Mannequin by Stephanie M. Wytovich is a collection that strips away civilization and throws readers into the lives of its survivors. The poems inside are undelivered letters, tear-soaked whispers, and unanswered prayers. They are every worry you’ve had when your electricity went out, and every pit that grew in your stomach watching the news at night. They are tragedy and trauma, but they are also grief and fear, fear of who—or what—lives inside us once everything is taken away.

Goodreads | Bookshop

Team Reviews:

From Laurie:

Wytovich creates a bleak world devastated by plague, chemicals, ruination and all of the painful truths about humanity that are likely to occur when life as we know it is over forever. It contains beautifully written and frightening visions of an apocalyptic future. Each poem is a little glimpse into a bleak nightmare world.

Check out Laurie’s full review here!

From Tracy:

These vary in length and all boast what I have come to love most about the shortest form of horror fiction. Every word counts. Sometimes it’s slow. Often it’s a gut punch. But whether these pieces are insidious or brazen, the result is the same. I am unsettled, entertained, and left thinking. I will be seeking out more from Wytovich in the future.

Check out Tracy’s full review here!

From Jen:

One of the most important things I look for in poetry is being able to understand it in a way that I can relate to. I’ve read a lot of poetry that has left me scratching my head, but Wytovich’s poetry is very accessible. There is a reason Stephanie Wytovich is so well loved in the horror community. Her writing is beautiful and it’s brutal.

Check out Jen’s full review here!

Photo by Audra

About the Book:

Part fairy tale, part horror story, Northwood is a genre-breaking novella told in short, brilliant, beautifully strange passages. The narrator, a young woman, has fled to the forest to pursue her artwork in isolation. While there, she falls in love with a married man she meets at a country dance. The man is violent, their affair even more so. As she struggles to free herself, she questions the difference between desire and obsession—and the brutal nature of intimacy. Packaged with illustrations by famed English artist Rufus Newell and inventive, white-on-black text treatments by award-winning designer Jonathan Yamakami, Northwood is a work of art as well as a literary marvel.

Goodreads | Bookshop

Team Reviews:

From Audra:

Haunting, visceral, and claustrophobic, this freeform poetry/novella mashup is the perfect one-sitting read, about a woman struggling with her art and a violent, intense affair.

Check out Audra’s full review here!

Photos by Jen and Cassie

About the Book:

Choking Back the Devil by Donna Lynch is an invocation, an ancient invitation that summons the darkness within and channels those lonely spirits looking for a host. It’s a collection that lives in the realm of ghosts and family curses, witchcraft and urban legends, and if you’re brave enough to peek behind the veil, the hauntings that permeate these pages will break seals and open doorways, cut throats and shatter mirrors.

Goodreads | Bookshop

Team Reviews:

From Cassie:

I loved this collection, and enjoyed the ways it stood out from some of the others I’d read recently. Horror can be found in so many different places, and I really liked that the focal point through a lot of these stories seemed to be personal demons, and mental health struggles. Murder and ghosts and things are definitely terrifying, and I love reading about them, but I also enjoy a good be of introspection when its done well; I’m happy to say that Lynch has definitely done it well here! The inside of our minds can be a very unsafe, unsettling place to be—and what better atmosphere for a horror writer can there be than that?

Check out Cassie’s full review here!

From Tracy:

I loved this brutal, beautiful horror poetry from Donna Lynch. Almost all of these pieces were 4-5 stars for me. The longer ones are stunning; however, it was the brief ones that damaged me. The selections of just a few lines, or even a single page, boast an unparalleled stark brutality.

Check out Tracy’s full review here!

From Emily:

Choking Back the Devil is the second collection I’ve read from Donna Lynch, and I loved it so much! These poems were gorgeous and haunting, and I really enjoyed my time reading them. I found this collection to be honest and easy to connect with.

Check out Emily’s full review here!

Photos by Audra and Cassie

About the Book:

What is buried can return. Those who are dead can still speak. A witch can be burned, but not silenced. When the abattoir is opened, the dead will rise. Burials is the narrative of those whose voices have been taken away-murdered women, witches, ghosts. It’s about speaking one’s truth, and using magic to heal or to banish, even from beyond the grave.

Goodreads | Amazon

Team Reviews:

From Audra:

Burials is a dark poetry collection considering women whose voices and stories have been silenced—murdered women, ghosts, witches. I loved the opening poem, “Queen of Sticks,” which really sets up the atmosphere and intention of the poems. The poems come from a place of pain but also from a place of hardened strength and durability; these women aren’t going anywhere even when they are buried. Also, the tongue-in-cheek love spell poems offered a bit of levity in the midst of the lachrymosity and darkness of the rest, and I enjoyed that.

Check out Audra’s full review here!

From Cassie:

A combination of relatable witchy spells to poems from beyond the grave, there’s a little bit here for the spooky girl in us all. The imagery in these poems brings to mind gruesome depictions of different women and their situations, from the characters in famous paintings to true crime victims, and more. The variety to the collection is pretty impressive, and I loved turning each page after reading, eager to see where Jessica would be taking me with her next poem.

Check out Cassie’s full review here!

Cassie

Cassie is one of our core team members, and maintains our site interviews with authors and creating monthly themed content.

Find her online at her blog www.letsgetgalactic.com, Twitter as @ctrlaltcassie, or over at her Etsy store, where she sells clothing, coloring & activity books, bookmarks, art prints, DIY craft kits, & more!

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