Cover for A Book of Nonsense by Edward Lear, c. 1875

There Once Was a Poem Called a Limerick

Whose history, they say, isn't quick. It's all such a muddle, it can leave you befuddled, whether you like the clean or the sick.
Clockwise: Kevin Young, Gwendolyn Brooks, Elizabeth Alexander, Mary Jo Bang, Reginald Dwayne Betts, Jack Gilbert

10 Contemporary Elegies

In these poems of lament, the speaker expresses grief and sorrow.
From left to right: Langston Hughes, Robert Hayden, Emily Dickinson, and Beah Richards

Celebrating National Poetry Month

Our best stories about poetry and poems offer free links to poems from contemporary and classic American poets.
Collage of contemporary Black Poets

Poems by 10 Contemporary Black Poets

Poems by Black poets, including Morgan Parker, Hanif Abdurraqib, Simone White, Terrance Hayes, and more.
Leaves stacked against a black background

Eight Poems of Gratitude

Let us pause now and give thanks.
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.
Electric Fan

The Linguistic Case for Sh*t Hitting the Fan

Idioms have a special power to draw people together in a way that plain speech doesn't.
John Brown

America, Lost and Found at Wounded Knee

Stephen Vincent Benét’s lost epic “John Brown’s Body” envisions a nation sutured together after the Civil War, but fails to reckon with the war’s causes.
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.