Poets You Should Know

You like poetry. But don’t spend that much time with it. You know Frost. You know Whitman. Maybe you know Mary Oliver, or Billy Collins. If you’d like to spend a little more time with it, here are some contemporary poets we think are worth knowing.

Ada Limon writes poems grounded in our world that contain an intimate vulnerability. Her poetry lays bare her love, fear, anger, and happiness in language that feels like someone confiding in an old friend. In each poem the author explores her life with you, asking for your trust. She’s been the winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award, and a finalist for the National Book Award. Her latest is The Carrying: Poems.

Tracy K. Smith‘s poems contain a serenity and elegance about profound, and sometimes difficult topics. They have a lyrical beauty on their surfaces, but underneath is the vast weight of history, both political, and personal. She’s less a lecturer and more of a revealer, pulling back the curtain, inviting us to inhabit the lives of others. She is a former U.S. poet laureate, and host of The Slowdown, a daily poetry podcast, and of winner of the Pulitzer Prize. Her latest is Wade in the Water: Poems.

Ted Kooser crafts poems full of tender moments in clean, simple compositions that draw attention to those small, uncategorized experiences in life that we often forget. Kooser accumulates these objects, feelings, and scenes with a soft, casual tone, producing poems of deep sincerity. And while many of the poems illustrate the mundane, the everyday, the unremarkable, Kooser is able to tease out the nostalgia, warmth, empathy, and reminiscences of things in life we rarely stop to ponder. He is a former U.S. poet laureate and winner of the Pulitzer Prize. His latest is Kindest Regards: New and Selected Poems.

-Mike M.


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