English poetry has had a dynamic path. It has evolved with time. Poets have traditionally changed according to the demands of time and situations. It used to be limited to appreciating female breasts and singing praises for kings and queens. At times, poets had the only job – ridiculing society. It enlarged the canvas to appreciate life and its facets in the Romantic period in English literature. Once, poetry changed into a social observation machine and reflected the real colours with a few added combinations. In short, the moot point is, English poetry is able to adapt, evolve and deliver. However, with limiting readership and changing preferences of readers worldwide, poetry, it seems, has taken the backseat with novel accelerating the car-carrying literature. Isn’t it? Nevertheless, if you are a poetry admirer and want to know a few poets producing quality poetry in the 21st century, we have a list of English poets you can read and enjoy.
- Richard Siken: An American poet (among other tags like filmmaker, painter etc.) known for his emotionally intense and lyrical language, Richard Siken is catering to the demands of modern readers of poetry with his emotional poems. His collection Crush was a finalist for the National Book Award and won the Yale Series of Younger Poets competition.
- Ocean Vuong: Vuong is a Vietnamese American poet whose work explores themes of trauma, migration, and identity. His collections Night Sky with Exit Wounds and On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous have received critical acclaim. Read his poetry for seriousness, concerning issues, and certainly some quality literature on board.
- Alice Oswald: Alice is a British poet whose work often explores themes of nature, myth, and history. With an eye for details and poetic language, she has been the favourite among readers of all age groups. Her collection Dart won the T.S. Eliot Prize for Poetry.
- Claudia Rankine: Claudia is a well-known American poet, playwright, and scholar whose work deals with themes of race and racism. Her book Citizen: An American Lyric was a finalist for the National Book Award. You can read her collection Just Us: An American Conversation for some quality poems depicting race issues.
- Natasha Trethewey: An American poet and former U.S. Poet Laureate, Natasha’s works often explore themes of race, family, and history. Her collection Native Guard won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry.
- Shane McCrae: Shane is an American poet. He writes literature dealing with themes of race, violence, and identity in modern society (mainly the US). His popular poetry collection In the Language of My Captor won the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award for Poetry.
- Kwame Dawes: Kwame is a Ghanaian poet (who lived in Jamaica and the USA as an English professor), novelist, and playwright who has published numerous collections of poetry and has won numerous awards for his work. You may like reading his poems in the collection Gomer’s Song and Prophets.
- Terrance Hayes: Hayes is an American English poet popular for his innovations and experiments in the style of poetry. Lighthead, a collection of poems by Terrance Hayes, won the National Book Award for Poetry in 2010. He has published 7 poetry collections.
- Rita Frances Dove: Rita Dove is an American poet and former U.S. Poet Laureate. She is known for her poems that explore themes of race, history, and identity, and for her innovative use of form and language. Dove has won numerous awards for her work, including the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, and her collections include “Thomas and Beulah” and “Sonata Mulattica.”
- Simon Armitage: Simon Armitage is a British poet, playwright, and novelist. He is known for his accessible and engaging poetry, which often deals with themes of everyday life and contemporary society. Armitage has won numerous awards for his work, including the Whitbread Poetry Award and the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry. His collections include The Unaccompanied, The Death of King Arthur, and Seeing Stars. He is the current Poet Laureate of England.
Friends, this was the list for the day of 21st-century English poets you will enjoy reading. Don’t forget to let others know what you have read or plan to read in future. Also, if you think there are poets who can be added to this list (because their themes and writings outshine the ones on this list), do provide the names and your thoughts on those. I will be happy to add their names and update the list accordingly. Keep reading poetry! All the best!
A list by Manish for Literature News