Happy National Poetry Month! To celebrate, we pulled together our best stories about poetry with free links to poems from contemporary and classic American poets.


Poems by 10 Contemporary Black Poets

Poems by Black poets, including Morgan Parker, Hanif Abdurraqib, Simone White, Terrance Hayes, and more.
A Reading from Homer by Lawrence Alma Tadema, 1885

How Do We Know That Epic Poems Were Recited from Memory?

Scholars once doubted that pre-literate peoples could ever have composed and recited poems as long as the Odyssey. Milman Parry changed that.
Photograph: Beah Richards in a still from the film, "Guess Who's Coming To Dinner."

The Poem That Inspired Radical Black Women to Organize

Beah Richards is best known as an actor, but in 1951 she wrote a sweeping poem that influenced the Civil Rights Movement.
Robert Hayden

Robert Hayden’s Relatable Fatigue

There’s a constant attention to the burdens of history in Robert Hayden’s poems. Even amid the beauties of life, the ghosts of the past linger.
Bernadette Mayer

Everyday Life, Revisited—with Bernadette Mayer’s Memory

In the poet’s work, the small and ordinary rise to the level of heroic adventures. If we value human life, then we should value what makes up a life.
Margaret Cavendish, Duchess of Newcastle, by Peter Lely

“Mad Meg,” the Poet-Duchess of 17th Century England

Margaret Cavendish, Duchess of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, shocked the establishment by publishing poems and plays under her own name.
Lew Welch

The Poet Who Wanted to Be Eaten by Vultures

One day in 1971, the hard-drinking Beat poet Lew Welch walked into the woods of Nevada County and disappeared, possibly angling to be eaten by vultures.
John Clare

What This 19th-Century Poet Knew About the Future

The Anthropocene requires a new history to explain how humans transform the planet. The work of poet John Clare is a good place to start.
Restoration Poet

The Restoration’s Filthiest Poet (and Why We Need Him)

Creature of the court, royalist and fop, dandy and dilettante, John Wilmot, Second Earl of Rochester, knew how to scandalize with verse.
Felicia Hemans portait

What, Prithee, Is a Poetess?

The loss and recovery of a poetic genre shows how the canon of literary history treats women writers the moment they start to gain attention and approval.
Summer Afternoon Asher Brown Durand

Summertime Poems and Paintings

Summery poems by Mary Oliver, Matthew Zapruder, and other poets, along with seasonal paintings by Claude Monet and other artists.
Sylvia Plath

Ten Poems By Sylvia Plath

Sylvia Plath was born on October 27, 1932, and became in her short life one of the most influential poets of the era.
Black Poets

10 Poems by African-American Poets

Poems by African-American poets, including Gwendolyn Brooks, Kwame Dawes, Rita Dove, Langston Hughes, Tyehimba Jess, Kevin Young, and more.

The Snow That Never Drifts: Emily Dickinson’s Slant Winter

Like many of her poems, Emily Dickinson's "The Snow That Never Drifts" presents a riddle for the reader
Ghostly road

A Belief in Ghosts: Poetry and the Shared Imagination

An essay from poet Dorothea Lasky on poetry, ghosts, and the shared imagination.
Langston Hughes

The Drag Aesthetic of Langston Hughes

Langston Hughes' poetry was influenced by the drag scene in 1920s Harlem.
Lucie Brock-Broido

10 Poems by Lucie Brock-Broido

Ten poems by the accomplished poet and teacher Lucie Brock-Broido.
Maggie Nelson

MacArthur Genius Fellow Maggie Nelson Writes Poetry, Too. Here’s Some Of It.

She can pack a room with her prose, but Maggie Nelson's got a poet's ear.
Phillis Wheatley

The Privileged and Impoverished Life of Phillis Wheatley

The first African American of either gender to publish a book of poetry has remained a controversial figure in the black community.
Taylor Swift Credit: Taylor Swift/Vevo

Taylor Swift: 1989’s Confessional Poet

Since she first came to prominence, Taylor Swift's songs have been read autobiographically.

Walt Whitman the… Politician?

Before Walt Whitman was a famous poet, he was a scandalous poet, but before even all that he was in the thick of local and national politics.

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