The Best 21 Books in 21 Years of the 21st Century

In the Spring we put out a call for people’s choices of favourite books.

‘Poetry is more than ever necessary to us just now.  It would be good to know which books have meant most to you in the first twenty-one years of the 21st Century, and which you would most recommend to others.  They needn’t be ‘feel good’ (that’s not how it works, is it), but equally we’re not looking to construct a league table. 

Please choose up to half a dozen poetry books (single collections or/and anthologies) published since 2000.  With a short comment if you wish about all or some of them. 

And, while we’re polling, which two or three books still mean most to you from the 20th Century?

We will publish in the next North a list of the books that our friends and readers recommend – books that everyone should read or re-read, and especially books you love that we might have missed.’

The results so far are given below. We are still compiling – please do add to the survey.

21st Century Titles

Six NominationsFiona BensonVertigo & GhostCape, 2019
Sharon OldsStag’s LeapCape, 2012
Alice OswaldFalling AwakeCape, 2016
Claudia RankineCitizenGraywolf / Penguin, 2014
Five NominationsEavan BolandThe HistoriansCarcanet, 2020
Andrew McMillanPhysicalCape, 2015
Four NominationsLiz BerryBlack CountryChatto & Windus, 2014
Kei MillerThe Cartographer Tries to Map a Way to ZionCarcanet, 2014
Helen MortDivision StreetChatto & Windus, 2013
Seamus HeaneyHuman ChairFaber & Faber, 2010
Alice OswaldDartFaber & Faber, 2002
Three NominationsMimi KhalvatiAfterwardnessCarcanet, 2019
Raymond AntrobusThe PerserverancePenned in the Margins, 2019
Rebecca ElsonA Responsibility to AweCarcanet, 2018
Ocean VuongNight Sky with Exit WoundsCape, 2017
Sinead MorrisseyOn BalanceCarcanet, 2017
Jacob PolleyJackselfPicador, 2016
Mark DotyDeep LaneCape, 2015
Imtiaz DharkerOver the MoonBloodaxe, 2014
Louise GlückFaithful and Virtuous NightCarcanet, 2014
Sinead MorrisseyParallaxCarcanet, 2013
Esther MorganGraceBloodaxe, 2011
Jo ShapcottOf MutabilityFaber & Faber, 2010
John GlendayGrainPicador, 2009
The Results So Far: Your Favourite 21 Books from the first 21 Years of the 21st Century

20th Century Titles

Four NominationsElizabeth BishopThe Complete PoemsChatto & Windus, 1983
Seamus HeaneyOpened GroundFaber & Faber, 1966
Frank O’HaraLunch PoemsCity Lights, 1981
Sylvia PlathArielFaber & Faber, 1965
Three NominationsT S EliotFour QuartetsFaber & Faber, 1944
Louise GlückThe Wild IrisCarcanet, 1992
Philip LarkinCollected PoemsFaber & Faber, 1988
Two NominationsJohn AshberyHouseboat DaysCarcanet, 1975
Raymond CarverAll of UsHarvill, 1996
Carol Ann DuffyThe World’s WifePicador, 1999
T S EliotCollected PoemsFaber & Faber, 1963
T S EliotThe WastelandFaber & Faber, 1922
Allen GinsbergHowlCity Lights, 1959
Fay Goodwin & Ted HughesElmetFaber & Faber, 1994
W S GrahamSelected PoemsFaber & Faber, 1996
Seamus HeaneySeeing ThingsFaber & Faber, 1991
Seamus HeaneyNorthFaber & Faber, 1975
Henri, Adrian, Roger and Brian McGough and PattenThe Mersey SoundPenguin, 1967
Geoffrey HillMercian HymnsAndre Deutsch / Penguin, 1971
Philip LarkinThe Whitsun WeddingsFaber & Faber, 1964
Louis MacNeiceAutumn JournalFaber & Faber, 1939
Frank O’HaraCollected PoemsCarcanet, 1971
Sylvia PlathCollected PoemsFaber & Faber,
Dylan ThomsCollected PoemsDent, 1952
The Results So Far: Your Favourite Books from the 20th Century