Emotions 21 poetry books to cultivate (and care for) the...

21 poetry books to cultivate (and care for) the mind


Reading and writing poetry helps us understand our emotions and get to know ourselves better. Discover 21 poetry books that can inspire you and help you improve your well-being.

Poetry is born of pain “, said Joge Luis Borges. The truth is that poets and thinkers of all times have linked poetry with mental health. Many have wondered about the mental health of some prolific poets, whose verses have put words despair, exhaustion or sadness. But psychiatrists have gone further: Is poetry a way to connect with our most intimate feelings? Can reading or writing it be a form of therapy? Research on the matter seems to indicate That is how it is: poetry can be healing.


Write poetry with the first words that come to mind, narrate your childhood in the form of verses, write non-stop for ten minutes and then reflect on what you have written… these are some creative writing exercises that can help you get in touch with your emotions, so it becomes a very powerful self-knowledge tool.

One of the avant-garde groups, a pioneer in the development of creative writing, was the French Oulipo, whose techniques are still very active. Today the offer of creative writing workshops is very wide fortunately and many therapists use this technique to help connect with the interior and get to know each other better.


When we read poetry, specific neural networks of the brain related to tolerance to uncertainty and the greater ability to reason in the face of unexpected events are activated, which according to researchers from the University of Liverpool (Great Britain), shows that reading poems is related to greater mental well-being.

The study, published in the journal Cortex, analyzed the brain’s response –through functional magnetic resonance imaging– when reading poetry and thus they were able to study the neural and cognitive bases of literary consciousness.

What happens in your brain when you read your favorite verses? What happens is that you access your most emotional memories. This was demonstrated by other research, published in the Journal of Consciousness Studies, which also looked at the areas of the brain that are activated when reading poetry. In this case it was compared with the zones that are activated when reading prose. They discovered something surprising: reading poetry has particular effects on people’s minds.

Specifically, what they observed is that when reading poetry, the parts of the brain related to memory (and specifically related to introspection) are activated in greater intensity than when reading prose. The conclusion of the researchers is that poetry activates our most emotional memories, helps us to know ourselves better and to explore our feelings.

The poet Javier Gilabert has selected the following 20 books of poetry to explore our mind, connect with life and have a good time meddling in reading them. The first, yours, we have chosen, despite your reluctance.

On the shelves

On the shelves (Esdrújula Ediciones, 2019), Javier Gilabert reconciles us with that analogical part of ourselves that no longer denounces the dehumanization brought about by technological progress, but he does detest it. It recognizes that a return to the classical mechanics of the world – to the rudimentary and social aspects of personal relationships, to reference books and not to links or virtual spaces full of data and supposedly truthful flattery – would be to recover a large part of dignity and wisdom we’ve lost.

On the shelves remains all the knowledge, the entire history of humanity and its fictions compiled in books. The return to books is the return to love, respect for the other and the value of experience.

My will be done

Make my will by Ángelo Néstore (Pre-Textos, 2020, XX Emilio Prados International Poetry Prize) addresses the limits of language, inquiring about power relations from a queer perspective and giving voice to identities found in a trans space: trans-gender, trans-border. Likewise, she reflects on her own and others’ privileges to highlight the political structures that govern social balances in the 21st century, such as, for example, the forms of oppression that are generated between gender and origin.

Story of a soul

Story of a soul, by Antonio Praena (Visor, 2018). The reader may be surprised that the author of this book is a friar, but he will immediately understand that it is not him who speaks, but rather a character created ad hoc  to bear witness to the signs of these times. Of the lives of others. Praena confesses that she seeks “not to judge”, even though we are dealing with a moral work. He is a “pretender.” The disbelieving cynic who drives high-end cars and motorcycles, takes cocaine and alcohol, wears expensive designer clothes, or compulsively practices sex, is not, of course, the man who, in his shadow, challenges those who read about this form of life: the poet.

The camera wants you

The camera loves you, by Pablo García Casado (Visor, 2019). It is about a literary immersion in the world of pornography. A reality present in our day to day of which we hardly know the pixelated surface of our screens. It is a book that questions the borders of the poetic  with prose poems that reflect on desire, loneliness and power relations.

Skin from the elements

The skin of the weather,  by Juan José Castro Martín (Nazarí, 2017), is a work planned as a journey through consciousness, transformed by the effect of overlapping voices, it reflects on the border and changing identities of an unstable self and questionable, a crumbling construction where only the salvific echo of the poetic word can be heard. The acceptance of the pain of loss permeates an entire architectural collection of poems of symbolic depth where different thicknesses of reality are traversed with different characters drawn from the literary and collective imagination in the affirmation of the limit as the beginning of the limitless.

The broken tongue

The broken tongue, by Raúl Quinto (La Bella Varsovia, 2019). Diogenes Laertius recounted in his Life of Illustrious Philosophers that Zeno of Elea bit off his tongue and spat it in the face of the tyrant of the city when he demanded collaboration. That broken tongue is the symbol from which Raúl Quinto designs a textual mechanism about the power of the word and the price to pay for saying against power, with dazzling images and through the enhancement of a counter-hegemonic memory: from various activists murdered in dark episodes in the history of Spain such as the Malaga highway massacre or the thalidomide scam.

The broken tongue talks about the need to rescue words from the mouths of monsters: it is about a poetics not only of silence, but of silencing and rebellion, and of a poetically precise analysis of the structure of a world where they are others those who have the power to name and decide what can or cannot be said.

Latest poems (what I can never tell you)

Last poems (what I will never know how to tell you), by Rafael Guillén (‘Vandalia’ Collection, José Manuel Lara Foundation, 2019). Guillén says goodbye to his readers with this book, the new title of the Vandalia collection where these ‘last poems’, love verses with great musicality and linked to the 21st century, put the finishing touch to an itinerary that places its author among the great poets of the half century.

The verses that make up this book ‘Últimos poemas’ are about love, but about a love that is known from the 21st century and that, therefore, sinks its roots and develops in very different coordinates from those left to us by great poets from previous centuries. New technologies and science share verses with the words of love and the most intimate emotions.

Little biography of light

Small biography of light (Esdrújula Ediciones, 2019), by Alejandro Pedregosa, captures the subtlety of the greats in each of his poems. And he manages to achieve the apparent “poetic simplicity” of the maestro Antonio Machado. Only when you have been in the shadow can you describe the history of the light itself. Perhaps we do not come to appreciate, with the intensity it deserves, what we have experienced and that surrounds us until we get far enough away. Perhaps something similar will happen to the poet and he will enter this Little Biography of Light from the perspective that distance provides him.

Girls always tell the truth

Girls always tell the truth, by Rosa Berbel (Ediciones Hiperión, 2018), is an ambitious book in which its young author addresses thematic topics (tempus fugit, love), generational reasons (job insecurity, the importance of image, the family) and issues that are on the socio-political agenda (gender violence). Although Berbel uses a colloquial register, his style is infused with rhetoric: parallels, anaphoras, antitheses, chiasms, ellipsis, polysyndeton, irony… The tone of the book is sometimes ironic and other times absolutely hopeless. This book has earned him, in addition to the Carvajal Prize for Young Poetry, the Andalucía de la Crítica and the prestigious Critical Eye, awarded by RNE.

Secret light

Secreta Luz, by Victoria León (‘Vandalia’ Collection, José Manuel Lara Foundation, 2019). Relying on the classic meters, Victoria León’s verses seek harmony with a natural language without rhetorical excesses and a contained tone, unrelated to grandstanding or verbal violence. Structured around the experience of loss, the book, which has a marked narrative character, has something of a love songbook and also a descent into hell.

The author raises the terms of a redemption that does not ignore that pain and loneliness are the necessary price of that secret light that, paradoxically, is born from them and gives them meaning, and is also the essential material with which it is built understand lyrical poetry: a form of individual self-knowledge that involves inquiring at the same time in the human soul, in the common and universal that is the root of all artistic manifestations.

A good hour

A good hour (Visor, 2019), by Alejandro Simón Partal. If poetry is also a path to the other, to the outside, and attends to the flow of things, to their grace, the writing of Alejandro Simón Partal has its own place in that republic of man who contemplates, shares, enjoys and so on. widens their amazement. But the journey is never alone, rather it promulgates an intimate expedition that shakes hands with the reader as an accomplice on the road.

The well-tuned maturity of this young poet comes from the precision in his gaze, but also from the matter of a thought that does not displace or mask reality, but rather seeks in it from the tension of the small, in the authenticity that houses an everyday gesture, in the event of a sunrise, in the full moment and in the humble harmony of an afternoon of friendship where life affirms itself. What a necessary lesson these pages dispense. What a way to launch into the world and say at the top of your lungs: I’m going with you.

I go to my work, with my money I pay

I go to my work, with my paid money, anthologized by José Carlos Rosales (Vaso Roto, 2019), it is an essential work that brings together poems on the subject of money  by the most prominent Spanish-speaking authors of all time: from the Archpriest of Hita to the present.

Sensitive anatomy

Sensitive Anatomy, by Andrés Neuman (Foam Pages, 2019), is a celebration of the body in all its breadth. A defense of imperfection and its alternative beauties, through a poetic, political and erotic journey through the matter that we are. A book that reveals with humor how we see ourselves or induce us to look, proposing a demystifying aesthetic. These pages are nourished by intense observation, life adventure and linguistic exploration: body as style, style as body.

But the experimentation of Sensitive Anatomy is not limited to the literary genre, and also brings into play a perspective that goes beyond canonical identities. We are thus witnessing the creation of an intergenerational and polygender gaze that displays an extraordinary imaginative richness, a prose as elegant as it is radical. The book has earned its author to be nominated among the ten finalists for the Andalusian Critics Award.

Collide with something

Colliding with something, by Erika Martínez (Pre-Textos, 2018). This book is politics in the good sense of the word: it reflects, raises, vindicates. And it is poetry, too, in its best sense: he sings, but his song is complex.

This book is not only a turning point in Erika Martínez’s poetic trajectory (it gives the impression that she has calibrated her tone better than ever, which sometimes became somewhat cold, immune to emotion: that never happens here), but, above all, one more foundation of a Spanish poetry more of active thought than of passive self-referential rewriting, which hopefully will continue to turn poetry into a thinking machine that helps us to be better, and not to admire, more and more rapture, the folds of our lyrical navel.

The name of the cold

The name of the cold, by Gerardo Venteo (Maclein & Parker, 2019). Saying goodbye to those we love causes us intense pain. This collection of poems, from the pain of loss, pretends to be a hymn to life and friendship, to love. From a sustained lyricism, the author, through the most stark depth, takes us to the intimate and challenges us. Thus, through the pages of The Name of Cold, the intimate memory of a lost friend glides, images on the run sprinkled with nostalgia and anticipated pain, and it also supposes a literary relief that also contains a subtle eroticism.

The name of cold is close to the testimony of a poetic diary through which the author addresses the death of a friend and takes place in a sequenced way from the announcement of the disease to the moments before death, as well as what happens the day after, after death. It is an intense and truthful collection of poems, a hymn to life and friendship.

Time is a mountain lion

Time is a mountain lion, by Trinidad Gan (Visor, 2018). Its title is inspired by a verse by Raymond Carver. It also serves as a tribute to one of the main exponents of dirty realism. The American poet is a strong magisterium who makes the end of dreams and the lack of redemptive utopias the gravitational centers of his narrative and poetic fictions. Trinidad Gan assumes that fracture between the self and the environment; the vital trajectory shows a disenchantment that convulses the inner fibers; that diary of disenchantment gives rise to a stark and minimalist chronicle. Time consumes the stretches of the road “with hardly any glimpses of the horizon.”

The lion becomes a symbolic representation of time; It is that beast that stalks our steps and dozes in the shadow to capture us. Its magnetic force elicits the haphazard presence of the disturbing. The word is molded as a vanishing point in which the lonely postcard of the concrete subject intertwines and the collective being of those scenes of pain such as Gaza or Aleppo that usually peek into the conformism of the after-dinner from the newscast with its red-stained rubbish dumps.

Invent the bone

Inventing the bone, by Olalla Castro (Pre-Textos, 2019). The last book published by Olalla Castro, XXXIII Unicaja Poetry Prize, is a highly original collection of poems built through opposition and identities. Structured, very expressive and intelligently in five parts, each of them offers the lyrical subject’s gaze on a reality: that of “I”, that of “you”, that of “us”, that of “them”, that of “language” and that of pain ”.

It is, without a doubt, a magnificent book, intelligent and lucid, which continues to lead the way in the direction of the previous works of Olalla Castro, but which, like all good poetry books, expresses the author’s own voice from a new and original. Without a doubt, a lyrical achievement.

The slow nettle of the night

The slow nettle of the night, by Alberto Maqueda (Devenir, 2019). The first sensation that overwhelms us when opening and reading Alberto Maqueda’s texts is surprise; surprise at a dazzling, sharp and deep word that amazes for its rhythmic effect and its sonority, for the power of images and mastery of forms. In this book there is a development of a main voice to which other voices are added as variations of the same theme or fundamental melody that sustains the entire building of meanings and senses.


The Reparations, by Fernando Jaén (Esdrújula Ediciones, 2017). If Seamus Heaney, whom the poet addresses in his proem, was known as “the poet of the everyday”, nothing more everyday in our lives than pain and nothing more human than the will to repair the damage. Perhaps poetry does not heal wounds or redeem us, or it is the only possible way to correct our mistakes. Impelled by a sense of urgency, with stripped and clear language, the verses of Fernando Jaén unravel with clinical good looks, with wise precision and a certain tenderness not without the aftertaste of a scar, a love story that is —in addition— to the vivid poem and lived, to poetry as incarnation: alien and own, unique and anyone.

The Reparations will not surprise those who follow the poet’s poetic production. A simple depth runs through his entire work, an expressive honesty that, in this book, openly borders on the nude. An excellent opportunity to meet it if the reader approaches it for the first time, where poetry is suggested as a deep, common experience, but the word is imposed as a transcendent intimate experience.

Get home

Arriving at home, by José Iniesta (Ediciones Renacimiento, 2019). Iniesta’s poetry springs up and flows regardless of fashions and currents, trends and “isms”, which is nourished by readings and reflection, in a permanent double gaze: towards the surrounding world and towards the inner universe.

In this book he practices a poetry meticulously subject to a leisurely rhythm, contained, formally without fissures, which accurately translates the vital deliberations of a being that struggles to reconcile his thinking with the natural rhythm of the world, and in that conciliatory desire he has an importance. love experience is supreme, an experience that, in some moments, reminds us of the love exaltation that provoked the poems of the so-called love trilogy by Pedro Salinas, although José Iniesta, perhaps with the mettle that age provides, did not let himself be carried away by the fury of those outbursts that lead to an almost mystical fusion with the person you love.

The lakes of North America

The Lakes of North America, by José Daniel Espejo (Pre-Texts, 2019). Poetry is not a form of therapy, although it does have something of examining oneself from the voice that sounds like someone else’s. As if it were a flashlight in our own hand that descends to the bottom of us and illuminates the shadows that we crowd like rubble, the same as ghosts of which we know all the expressions of silence and fear. Poetry is not the one-page couch or the verses on which we lie down with our conscience on our back and explore through questions the anguish, the wounds, the nights, the provinces that we choke between words and tears that we do not happens. This book It is devastating because it shows the perspective of a father without a wife, an orphan of a manual with an autistic son and another to whom to dedicate the same heart forward.

MindFixes Staffhttp://mindfixes.com
MindFixes is dedicated to promoting mental health, preventing mental disorders and advocating, educating, and serving all people with mental and substance use conditions. MindFixes is determined to persevere, learn, grow, love and laugh through our wellness journey and we invite all to join.


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