Sunday lit meme: Poets

Here’s your question for the week:

Who are your five favorite poets, and why?

Mine, in no particular order, are:

1. Allen Ginsberg. The man gave a voice to disenfranchised youth, confronted ignorance in court, scored a victory for the First Amendment, and broadened the very definition of art. Made pretty deft use of imagery, too. If I could own a copy of only one poem, “Howl” would be it.

2. Lawrence Ferlinghetti. In addition to being a pretty great poet in his own right, Ferlinghetti founded City Lights Books, published Ginsberg, and set off the court case referenced above. Fifty-odd years later, he’s still toiling diligently to make sure promising young authors’ words are heard.

3. Jack Kerouac. If you don’t get it, buy a copy of Kicks Joy Darkness and listen to Johnny Depp’s reading of “Madroad Driving.” If you still don’t get it, I’m not sure we can be friends any more…. 

4. Langston Hughes. Probably the most powerful voice to come out of the Harlem Renaissance. No matter how many times I read “Dream Deferred,” it still gives me chills.

5. Dorothy Parker. She didn’t invent sarcasm, but she raised it to an art form. “Inventory” was one of my favorites back in college. “Three be the things I shall never attain….”

Who are your favorites?


2 thoughts on “Sunday lit meme: Poets”

  1. Are you sure you want to know?

    1. Robert Frost- I was eight when I first read “The Road not Taken” and I thought it was religious. My Mother told me that no, it was more like my Daddy turning down highly paid government positions to teach math to high school students. That was the first time I realized my Daddy really WAS a hero (to more than just me).

    2. Byron – “The Destruction of Sennacharib” still gives me chills.

    3. Poe – I despise “Annabel Lee”, but “The Raven” is both fun and disturbing in a particularly nice way.

    4. Ogden Nash – For being able to poke fun and make points without being nasty or foul.

    5. Sidney Sheldon – For “A Giraffe and A Half”, which was the most fun I ever had at Story Time with my first graders and made them realize that poetry could be fun.


    1. I love Poe because you can never, ever go wrong with “The Raven” in a roomful of sophomores. Doesn’t matter how many times they’ve read it or how much they claim to loathe poetry; the innate creepiness wins ’em over every time. Amusingly, Beverly Cleary was responsible for my own fondness for that poem. The title character in Emily’s Runaway Imagination — which was a great favorite of mine when I was little, for obvious reasons — begs her mother to recite it for her because it scares her. Cleary includes a few lines in the book, and after I read them and loved them, my own mother let me read the whole poem out of an anthology she and Daddy had on hand.

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