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Monday, April 18, 2011

Poets and poems to celebrate during National Poetry Month

Poets often ask each other about their favorite poets or poems, so here’s a list of personal Favs with hotlinks to poems for studying or just reading to enjoy. Feel free to add your favorites in the Comments section below.

Mary Oliver – The insightful and observant nature poetry of this Pulitzer Prize-winning poet drew me back into reading and writing poetry after years of writing almost everything except poems!

Charles Wright – Another Pulitzer Prize winner who weaves amazing metaphors and insight into exquisite free verse, this contemporary poet initially interested me because he was born in my native state of Tennessee, but his work appeals to a wide, global audience.

Donald Justice – This 20th Century Pulitzer poet had a home tie to Florida, where I’ve lived for years, but I especially enjoyed the insight into people and relationships often shown in his traditional poetry and free verse.

Pablo Neruda – Surrealist poetry, political poems, and odes of joy distinguish the Nobel Prize-winning poems of this 20th century poet, originally named NeftalĂ­ Ricardo Reyes Basoalto, from Chile.

Billy Collins – A winner of numerous prestigious prizes, this former U.S. Poet Laureate has won a non-poetry-reading public with skillfully written humorous poetry, noted for asking such questions as why the farmer’s wife cut off mice-tails with a carving knife.

Maya Angelou – Loved by the general public, this former nightclub singer, actress, activist, and highly versatile poet has also written song lyrics, picture books for children, a Pulitzer-nominated screenplay, and a poem for President Clinton’s 1993 Inaugural.

Jorie Graham – The brilliant, insightful poems of this Pulitzer Prize-winning poet may require multiple readings if you approach her poems, as I first did, from a mind-brain that goes for comprehension, but if you read her poems aloud as an experience, you’ll feel the poetry and perhaps keep coming back for more.

Richard Wilbur – A veteran of WWII, this veteran poet has won more than one Pulitzer and pretty much every major award for poetry. More amazing, though, has been his ongoing dedication to writing traditional metered poetry during the ongoing reign of free verse.

Mary Ann Hoberman – Our Children’s Poet Laureate writes books for kids and lively poems with humor and bounce.

(c) 2011, Mary Harwell Sayler


  1. My very favorite, who I never seem to tire of, is Gerard Manley Hopkins.

  2. Good one! Thanks, Alice. I especially love Fr. Hopkins' poem, "Spring & Fall: to a Young Child." Hmmm. This list focused on contemporary poets, but now I'm thinking we need one on classical Favs too.

  3. I like Maya Angelou and Mary Harwell Sayler!

  4. Hi, Thank you for sharing these great notes on the poets. South African poet Dennis Brutus is one of my favorites, and helped me early on with poetry. And among the older poets, William Blake. I've been posting my poetry from the point of view of a scientist, at http://jjbrownauthor.com/original-poems-from-scientist-author-j-j-brown/

  5. What a find! I'd never read the shaking yet embracing poetry of Dennis Brutus – a truly admirable man and poet. Thanks for letting us know about his work – and yours. Lovely. I posted a comment on your site but want to add here a word to all poets: Please, please put your name below every title or poem of yours, not only to identify your work clearly but to discourage people who pilfer.