Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Top Ten Favorite Poets

Happy Top Ten Tuesday over at That Artsy Reader Girl!

Top Ten Favorite Poets

Today's a freebie for Top Ten Tuesdays, so in honor of National Poetry Month, and my recently discovered appreciation for poetry these past few years, I'm challenging myself to see if I can list ten favorite poets!

Favorite Contemporary Poets

1. Najva Sol

I went to high school with Najva, and her poems from my school's 2005 literary magazine are still some of my favorites. You can find some of her writing here. Though she sadly now claims to be an ex-poet, she does some awesome feminist writing here

2. Leigh Stein

My mom introduced me to Leigh Stein when she thought it would be HILARIOUS to give me a copy of Stein's novel about a character moving back in with her parents after college, when I was, ahem, moving back in with my parents after college following the Great Recession. I was not a fan, BUT I recognized her name when I saw her poetry collection Dispatch from the Future in a Chicago bookstore and the rest is history. I loved her poetry, which is full of inside jokes, references, and insights into growing up millenial. Highly recommend.

3. Adrienne Rich

I debated whether to put her in contemporary or twentieth century, but she technically spans the millenium, and her work definitely feels contemporary in relevance. I read The Dream of a Common Language because Cheryl Strayed references it constantly in Wild, and I ran across Diving into the Wreck at my local Little Free Library. If you haven't read her already, do it.

Favorite 16th Century British Poets
(Ok, so I had to pull a bit on my master's thesis in Early Modern British literature; still my favorites!)

4. Shakespeare

Do I need to say more? I once had fifth graders in stitches over "My Mistress' Eyes Are Nothing Like the Sun"  They hypothesized that his mistress was a trashcan robot from the future. They also thought "Romeo and Juliet" was hilarious though (SO they have excellent taste).

5. Aemilia Lanyer

I wrote my master's thesis on the country house poems of Aemilia Lanyer and Ben Jonson (Lanyer's was first for the record, 1611, while "To Penshurst" was published in 1616). Her poem "The Description of Cooke-ham" followed her larger poetic work on the passion of the Christ, Salve Deus Rex Judaeorum, and contained awesome, meaning-laden lines such as "Grace from that grace where perfect grace remained." I could write a paper just about this line, but also, doesn't it SOUND cool? You can read more about her here  or ask me if you want to know more!

6. John Donne

It's hard not to like John Donne. All of his poems have such potent imagery and there's so much  emotion and meaning behind them, plus the meter. He's writing about love and bodies and souls, but he's also writing about religion and existence and the meaning of life. And sometimes there's a compass. 

Favorite 19th Century American Poet

7. Emily Dickinson

I can barely remember a time when I wasn't reciting "I'm Nobody, Who Are You?" to myself, and comforting myself that at least I wasn't a frog saying my name all day to the admiring bog. I had a children's book of the same name that featured Dickinson's poems and also read The Mouse of Amherst as a kid. Dickinson is in the rare category of poets that I have never not liked (which consists of um, Dickinson, Frost, and Robert Louis Stevenson), and she continues to have relevance as I get older (and public perceptions of her change).

Favorite 20th Century American and British Poets

8. Robert Frost

I had a children's book full of Robert Frost poems called A Swinger of Birches, and I grew up loving those poems. I also think Robert Frost may have ruined me for other poets for a while, because his poetry was so clear and accessible and why couldn't all poetry just be like that?

9. Philip Larkin

I mostly like Philip Larkin on the strength of one poem, but like Robert Frost, his poetry is clear and accessible, although a little more grown up in themes.

10. Elizabeth Bishop

Similarly, I mostly like Elizabeth Bishop on the strength of one poem that I am obsessed with, but I would like to read her other stuff too.

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