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Poem Sampler

Poems of Anxiety and Uncertainty

Confronting and coping with unchartered terrains through poetry.

When major parts of our lives seem to change in a flash, we are reminded that poetry can help us to cope with new realities and assess the unknowns ahead. When we are stepping out into uncharted terrain, alone or together, poetry can capture our emotions. It can share our vulnerabilities and scars, along with our strengths.

Poets are seekers and questioners. They explore the unknown and help to give it shape. The insights and wisdom in the following poems below are hard-won; more often, it is simply the naming of the fear—personal, spiritual, or political—that offers solace, reminding us that people are connected by our worries and doubts as well as our joys. By resisting closure and easy answers and sounding out the darkness, these poems remind us that poetry has always been able to cope with uncertainties, ambiguities, and shades of gray.


The Second Coming” by William Butler Yeats

As I Ebb’d with the Ocean of Life” by Walt Whitman

Renascence” by Edna St. Vincent Millay

Harlem” by Langston Hughes

Speech: “To be, or not to be, that is the question” by William Shakespeare

Sanctuary” by Jean Valentine

Lines Written Near San Francisco” by Louis Simpson

Unravelling / Shock” by Nathaniel Tarn

What Kind of Times Are These” by Adrienne Rich

from Don't Let Me Be Lonely: “A father tells his son the thing he regrets most about his life...” by Claudia Rankine

Long, too long America” by Walt Whitman

Then” by Aaron Shurin

The Price is Right: A Torture Wheel of Fortune” by Edward Dorn

Where am I” by Paul Celan

[I Love Uncertain Gestures] by Valerio Magrelli

Good Bones” by Maggie Smith

[In this short Life that only lasts an hour] by Emily Dickinson

[There's a certain Slant of light] by Emily Dickinson

The Letter” by Mary Ruefle

Little Exercise” by Elizabeth Bishop

Allow Me” by Chungmi Kim

This Room and Everything in It” by Li-Young Lee

Respiration” by Jamaal May

The Poem You’ve Been Waiting For” by Tarfia Faizullah

Dope” by Amiri Baraka

Responding” by Juliana Spahr

 “The Nail” by C.K. Williams

Poem About My Rights” by June Jordan

What Do You Call” by Cornelius Eady

The Colonel” by Carolyn Forché

To Our Land” by Mahmoud Darwish

Chomei at Toyama” by Basil Bunting


Poem Sampler

Poems of Anxiety and Uncertainty

Confronting and coping with unchartered terrains through poetry.

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