15 Eminent American Poets You Should Follow

6 mins read
American Poets
Pascal Maramis/ Flickr. Copyright 2021.

America has produced some of the world’s most renowned poets throughout its history. Some of these have not only impacted the art as it is today, but they have also transformed it and given it an altogether new form with different styles and methods that never have been seen before.

With each passing generation, we are blessed with American poets who have kept the debate over who is the best. While the discussion may never end because there are so many excellent and famous people, there are a few worth knowing about.

Here are the 15 most famous American poets and their best-known poems.

1. Robert Lee Frost

Robert Lee Frost is widely known for his profound grasp of human nature, which results in spectacular theatrical monologues or dramatic sequences in his poems.

American Poets
Gresham College/ Flickr. Copyright 2021.

Robert Frost was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1924 for his book New Hampshire: A Poem with Notes and Grace Notes. He went on to win three more Pulitzer Prizes after that. He is still the only poet, and just four people have received this honor.

Robert Frost is one of the most well-known and critically praised American poets of all time. He was called the United States’ unofficial “poet laureate” and is often recognized as one of the twentieth century’s most significant American poets.

His most well-known work includes:

  • The Road Not Taken (1916)
  • Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening (1923)
  • Mending Wall (1914)

2. Emily Dickinson

American Poets
orionpozo/ Flickr. Copyright 2021.

Dickinson is best known now for her unconventional use of form and vocabulary, as well as being dubbed as “the poet of paradox.” Emily Dickinson had had a significant impact on American poetry. Her approximately 1800 poems were only discovered after her death. She is known as the “Belle of Amherst” and is regarded as one of the best poets in English literature.

Her most renowned work includes

  • Hope is the Thing with Feathers (1891)
  • Because I Could Not Stop For Death (1890)
  • I’m nobody! Who are you? (1891)

3. Walt Whitman

Walt Whitman, known as the “Father of Free Verse,” is widely regarded as the most significant American poet. He wrote in a distinctively American voice, and most of his work does not openly address politics and democracy but implicitly.

Whitman continued to write on his poetry collection Leaves of Grass throughout his life, and by the time he died, it had grown to include almost 400 poems. Walt Whitman is undeniably one of the greatest poets in history, and many consider him to be one of the greatest American poets of all time.

His most well-known work includes:

  • Song of Myself (1855)
  • O, Captain! My Captain! (1867)
  • When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d (1865)

4. Edgar Allan Poe

Poe is primarily recognized as a pivotal figure in American Romanticism. He is considered the pinnacle of Dark Romanticism. This literary genre emphasizes human fallibility, self-destruction, judgment, punishment, and the demonic, as well as the psychological effects of shame and sin.

Aside from poetry, Poe is regarded as the creator of the detective fiction genre and an essential contribution to the burgeoning science fiction genre. Edgar Allan Poe is regarded as one of the most influential poets and well-known figures in American literature.

His most well-known work includes:

  • The Raven (1845)
  • Annabel Lee (1849)
  • A Dream Within a Dream (1849)

5. Sylvia Plath

American Poets
Drümmkopf/ Flickr. Copyright 2021.

Sylvia Plath is regarded as a pioneer in Confessional poetry, which refers to poems that center on the person, her experience, psychology, trauma, etc. She struggled with depression for the whole of her adult life and died by suicide in 1963.

Plath’s poetry is recognized for its powerful juxtaposition of violent or disturbed imagery with joyful alliteration and rhyme. Sylvia Plath is regarded as one of the most famous American poets and writers of the twentieth century.

Her most well-known work includes:

  • Daddy (1965)
  • Mirror (1971)
  • Tulips (1965)

6. Maya Angelou

American Poets
GPA Photo Archive/ Flickr. Copyright 2021.

Angelou is widely regarded as one of the world’s best poets and authors. Maya worked as a cook, nightclub dancer, performer, and sex worker before becoming a writer when she was young.

In her long career as a writer, she has authored seven autobiographies, including her first, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1969), and plays and poetry, like Mother: A Cradle to Hold Me (2006). She is widely considered one of the greatest American poets.

Her most well-known work includes:

  • Still, I Rise (1978)
  • On the Pulse of Morning (1993)
  • Phenomenal Woman (1978)

7. Charles Bukowski

Charles Bukowski was born in Andernach, Germany. In 1930, his family relocated to Los Angeles. He wrote thousands of poems, hundreds of short tales, and six novels in the end.

In his writing, he relied on experience, emotion, and imagination, employing straightforward language and violent and sexual imagery. He is regarded among the best American poets.

Bukowski was named a “laureate of American lowlife” by Time magazine in 1986.

His most well-known work includes:

  • Bluebird (1992)
  • The Laughing Heart (1993)
  • So You Want to Be a Writer

8. T. S. Eliot

Born Thomas Stearns Eliot OM, T.S., is widely recognized as one of the twentieth century’s most outstanding American poets. He was a Nobel laureate, playwright, and essayist, among other things.

As a child, he could not participate in most physical activities due to a congenital double inguinal hernia he had. As a result, he fell in love with books and began composing poetry when he was just 14 years old.

Among his famous works of poetry are:

  • The Waste Land (1922)
  • The Hollow Men (1945)
  • The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock (1915)

9. Ezra Pound

American Poets
Steve Hammond/ Flickr. Copyright 2021.

Ezra Weston Loomis Pound was the most powerful and well-known figure in the Imagist movement. He purposefully exploited perplexing juxtapositions in his poems while leading the reader to an intended conclusion.

He eschewed Victorian and Edwardian syntax and structure to develop his unique style of speech, incorporating unusual terms and jargon.

Among his renowned works of poetry are:

  • In a Station of the Metro (1913)
  • The Cantos (1925)
  • Hugh Selwyn Mauberley (1920)

10. E. E. Cummings

American Poets
Dave Miller/ Flickr. Copyright 2021.

Edward Estlin Cummings is best known for his poetry, which was groundbreaking in its use of unconventional punctuation and unusual use of form.

Most of his verse is written in lowercase, and he only capitalizes words when they are essential to the piece. His poems’ structure and usage of complex words are meaningful and not haphazard.

Cummings is still regarded as one of the most famous American poets, with his works about love and nature and his sensual poetry being prevalent.

His most well-known work includes:

  • I carry your heart with me (1952)
  • in Just- (1923)
  • Buffalo Bill’s (1920)

11. Langston Hughes

American Poets
GPA Photo Archive/ Flickr. Copyright 2021.

He was an early proponent of the poetry genre known as Jazz Poetry, which features jazz-like rhythms. Many of his poems are on African American culture and how black people are denied the American dream of equal opportunity for all.

Langston Hughes, a novelist, playwright, and columnist, is best known for his poetry, and he is widely recognized as one of the finest African American poets of all time.

His most well-known work includes:

  • The Negro Speaks of Rivers (1921)
  • Harlem (1951)
  • The Weary Blues (1925)

12. Ralph Waldo Emerson

American Poets
Books18/ Flickr. Copyright 2021.

Ralph Waldo Emerson was an American philosopher who led the transcendentalist movement in the eastern United States in the 1820s and 1830s. He is credited with popularising individuality through his countless speeches and publications.

Emerson impacted many intellectuals and authors who came after him; he mentored Henry David Thoreau, who became a renowned transcendentalist. He is considered one of the finest American poets.

His most well-known work includes:

  • Concord Hymn (1847)
  • Brahma (1857)

13. Wallace Stevens

Wallace Stevens is regarded among the most eminent American poets of the twentieth century. He was a brilliant stylist, with an exceptional vocabulary and meticulous accuracy in composing his works. But he was also an aesthetic philosopher, diving thoroughly into the concept of poetry as the supreme synthesis of the creative imagination and objective reality.

His most well-known work includes:

  • The Snow Man (1921) 
  • The Auroras of Autumn (1950)
  • Harmonium (1923)

14. William Carlos Williams

Despite his principal work as a doctor, Williams had a long writing career. His works include short stories, poems, dramas, novels, critical essays, an autobiography, translations, and correspondence.

He is among the most renowned American Poets, and his famous work includes:

  • The Red Wheelbarrow (1923)
  • Spring and All (1923)
  •  Pictures from Brueghel and Other Poems (1962)

15. Robert Lowell

American Poets
Walter Skold/ Flickr. Copyright 2021.

The Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Robert Lowell grew up in Boston, Massachusetts. His volume Life Studies (1959) is his most well-known work, yet his true genius as an American poet resides in the tremendous variety of his work.

When he released Life Studies, he began writing innovative personal or confessional poetry in much looser forms and meters; in the 1960s, he wrote more public poetry; and lastly, in the 1970s, he made poems that combined and extended parts of all the previous poetry.

His most well-known work includes:

  • Skunk Hour (1958)
  • Waking in the Blue (1959)
  • For the Union Dead (1964)

So here you have our list of the top 15 American Poets summed together. Do read about their work, lives, and contributions because American literature is one of the few things that should not be overlooked.

In the comment section below, let us know about your favorite American poets and poems.

Also read about Best Asian Restaurants in NYC.

Read more articles on our website, USA Tales

Verified Content by Experts

USA Tales has content written by niche experts, travelers, students, and those with real-life experience. Our content is also periodically reviewed by subject matter experts to ensure content accuracy and relevancy. Have a question? Email us at team@usatales.com

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Latest from Blog

Exclusive Guides & Discounts

Get how-to guides to shopping online, deals on things you love, & starting essentials to launch your business. Discounts when you use our content writing services. More details here.