7 Poets I Read Regularly
The most feedback I’ve received for the While I Was Reading Challenge is about the poetry category.
“I’m not into poetry” – Everyone
Poetry was my first love when I entered the writing world. Creative non-fiction hadn’t quite taken off yet as a legitimate genre when I was in the writing program at my community college. Up until that point, I’d read mostly fiction and attempted to write mostly fiction, which I’ve never quite gotten the knack for.
I was particularly successful in my Creative Writing class when it came to persuasive essays, and my professor recommended me for the college’s brand new Writer’s House program.
It was in this program that I discovered serious non-fiction writing and poetry. I tried my hand at it for a while, and still go to the form occasionally as a way to tackle my material from a different angle.
While I certainly respect that poetry is not for everyone, I don’t think enough people give it a chance. Most people say it’s boring, hard to read, or “over my head,” and there certainly is poetry that fits all three criteria for me. Reading poetry is an acquired skill, there’s a rhythm to it, a connection between writer and reader that isn’t the same with prose.
There is a lot of wonderful classic poetry out there, and while I do enjoy the works of Robert Frost, E.E. Cummings and Elizabeth Barrett Browning, I find contemporary poets’ works more likable on the whole.
When I think about poems that I return to regularly, for inspiration, support, or entertainment, there are only a few poets who come to mind.
See, you do like poetry, don’t you? I have a feeling that like me, Silverstein was probably your first introduction to poetry. I avoided The Giving Tree because it made me cry, but everything else of his I adored. At one point in middle school, I think knew every poem in Where the Sidewalk Ends nearly by heart. My favorite poem: HUG O’WAR
2. Sharon Olds
Olds is the poet who made me want to write. She showed me how much power can be held in just a few words, and that complete sentences aren’t always necessary. Olds’ poems cover every topic of human life, from birth to death, sex, marriage, and divorce, and odes to common every day objects. I love her simplistic way of getting to root emotion of the topic at hand. My favorite poem: Topography
I had the honor of working with Sierra at a previous job. She is talented, passionate, and hardworking. Her poems bring big issues to light, and address them in a way that is gentle yet fierce. She speaks of topics which are timely and relatable, making personal experiences universal. My favorite poem: Today Means Amen
Here’s the one exception to my preference of contemporary poets. For me, there’s something truly special about how the words of a 13th Century poet who wrote primarily in Persian, can resonate with me so thoroughly. Rumi’s works address every aspect of human living and spirituality. I’m constantly in awe of how relevant his work remains. My favorite poem: The Guest House
I was introduced to Kavanaugh’s work in college. His work feels like the merging or classic styles with contemporary. I almost had my favorite poem of his read as part of my wedding ceremony (I decided to go with lyrics to a Dave Matthews song instead, so the fact that this poem was a contender says a lot about it.) My favorite poem: To Love is Not to Possess
I’ve also had the great fortune to work with Rudy, and am repeatedly blown away by his talent. He takes his craft seriously and brings a quiet intensity to his poems. He is often direct and “in your face” with his words, while exposing his truths and being vulnerable. My favorite poem: Complainers
I discovered Whyte through my life coach. The poems she shared with me were always fitting for my current situation. His work has a genuine honesty to it, calling out the challenges and beauty of real life. My favorite poem: Everything is Waiting For You.