You Don't Have to Be Everything

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Some days 
I am more wolf
than woman
and I am still learning
how to stop apologizing
for my wild

What a gift poetry has—like these six lines by Nikita Gill—to say what we feel in a way that seems universally true yet deeply personal. And how clearly and meaningfully it speaks to adolescent readers, addressing so many of the complex emotions and changes they’re experiencing.

Created and compiled just for young women by Diana Whitney, former longtime poetry columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle, How to Be Real is filled with work by a wide range of female poets who are honest, unafraid, and so wonderfully skillful at addressing the big feelings of coming-of-age—aloneness, longing, doubt, fear, sadness, anger, a need for approval, and an attitude that pretends none of it matters. But also joy, hope, celebration, solace, and all the good things poetry brings, including humor (see “Questions to Ask Google”). The cast of 70 poets is extraordinary: bestselling authors like Maya Angelou, Elizabeth Acevedo, Sharon Olds, Joy Harjo, Lucille Clifton, Naomi Shihab Nye, and Mary Oliver; our new national Youth Poet Laureate, Amanda Gorman, Instagram-famous poets including Kate Baer, Melody Lee, and Andrea Gibson; poets who are LGBTQ, poets of diverse racial and cultural backgrounds, poets who sing of the body that breaks free of conventional ideas of beauty.

Illustrated in full color with the work of three female artists—Kate Mockford, Stephanie Singleton, and Christina Gonzalez—How to Be Real is a treasury of wisdom, compassion, and understanding, a collection to read again and again, and a perfect gift for daughters, granddaughters, or any young woman in your life.