Top Ten Tuesday: 10 Poets I’m So Excited to Read

You think you’ve read a lot of poetry for your degree and from whenever you’ve picked up a random collection…. and then you start reading established poets talk about poetry and you realize that the scratch you thought you’d made has in fact left no visible mark at all. Some of these poets I’ve known about for a long time, some I’ve recently discovered, but they’re all poets I’m hoping to spend more time with in the near future!

Mary Oliver

I bought her book on writing metrical poetry, but except for the odd poem here or there, I’ve never read her poetry! Born in 1935, she recently passed in 2019. Her work mostly deals with nature (which may explain why I’ve never gravitated towards it before).

Ada Limón

Host of the Slowdown Podcast I talked about last week, I first heard about Limón when I was reading Natalie Diaz’s work, Postcolonial Love Poem (which is fantastic, by the way) because they are friends and write letters to each other. Limón’s poems are more personal and often written in free verse–she might be a good poet to start with because I bet your public library has one of her collections!

Gwendolyn Brooks

Won the 1950 Pulitzer Prize, the first Black author to do so, and all around she was an extremely technically accomplished poet who wrote about things that were important to her and the Black community at large. Her poetry is firmly rooted in the world. I bought her collection on a trip into the City, so I really have no excuse not to jump into her work.

Jorge Luis Borges

I haven’t read nearly as much Borges as I would like to in any genre, but I definitely haven’t delved into his poetry. I found a copy of his selected poems in a used bookstore with the original Spanish and the translations. My Spanish is not nearly good enough to understand them fully in the original, but having them there to just read aloud and listen to the music is going to be really helpful. Many of the same themes he deals with in his fictions and essays (the nature of time for example) are in his poetry as well.

Basho

Easily the earliest poet on this list–Basho was a master of haiku in 17th century Japan. I learned about him while reading up on Japan, and I want to explore more of his work. The wonderful thing about haiku is that it’s short but it gives you plenty to think about. You can read a few with your morning coffee and let the images swirl around all day.

Danez Smith

Smith is a poetry slam veteran, so that means voice and rhythm are at the forefront of their work. I’ve heard wonderful things about their collection, Homie, and I can’t wait to read it!

Langston Hughes

Harlem Renaissance poet extraordinaire, I’ve only read of few of his poems from Poem a Day and in anthology–I’ve got some major time to spend with this poet. Although he wasn’t always well received in his own time by critics, he sought to portray the working class community really honestly with all its joys and sorrows.

Nikki Giovanni

I just learned about Giovanni during a poetry group meeting. Her poem served as inspiration for the evening’s writing prompt. The poem was so playful and energetic, and I can’t wait to read more.

Carol Ann Duffy

This Scottish poet is really well known for her love poems and her feminist stance. She writes poems with really strong voice.

Frederico García Lorca

Lorca was a 20th century Spanish poet who used images of Spanish culture to explore ideas of love and tragedy. He’s also known for his use of magical realism and incorporating folklore.

Do any of these poets catch your eye? Have you read them? Is there a poet you’ve recently discovered? Let me know in the comments!

5 thoughts on “Top Ten Tuesday: 10 Poets I’m So Excited to Read

    1. Poetry is not everyone’s favorite form, and that’s totally okay. The good news is there are so many beautiful things for us to read! If you like literary fiction, have you read Ocean Vuong’s novel On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous? It’s a really poetic novel and it echoes the themes of his poetry, but it doesn’t have forms and ambiguity and time switches to deal with. I definitely don’t get the meaning behind every line or word choice– a lot of times poets don’t even know why they wrote something or what it means!

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  1. Great list, I don’t read nearly enough poetry any more! Some of my favorites have been Pablo Neruda and Margaret Atwood. You’ve inspired me to pick up some of these authors.

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