Poets The Best American Poets  

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List Rules Vote up the American-born poets with the greatest bodies of work.

Who is the best American poet? This list includes poets such as William Faulkner, Emily Dickinson, Maya Angelou, and Robert Frost. From the postcolonial era to modernism, to post-WWII, to present day, great American poets continue to make us think. This list features the best American poets, who have entertained and touched readers throughout history.

We often feel an emotional connection to poetry. It all begins with the words written on the page. Whether short or long poetry is often illusory, and full of rich imagery or hidden meaning. It is these elements which provoke us as readers to dig deeper. The best of poems and poets are read throughout the ages. They are passed from generation to generation and taught throughout schools to young students.

Poets and their poetry have the ability to take us places and into the lives of those we’ve never imagined. Poets are often be tortured souls or great thinkers who allow us a new view of world which we never would have imagined. These greatest American poets provide the kind of emotional connection with the reader that few can. They are moving, saddening, or romantic.

Vote up the best American poets below or add the poet from the United States you think is the greatest if he or she isn't already on the list.
list ordered by

1
214 99
Emily Dickinson is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best American Poets
The complete poems, The letters, Acts of Light: The World of Emily Dickinson

2
208 97
Robert Frost is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best American Poets
The Collected Poems, Come in, The Road Not Taken

3
219 97
Walt Whitman is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best American Poets
Leaves of Grass, Song of Myself, Words of Ages

4
163 67
T. S. Eliot is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best American Poets
The Waste Land, The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats

5
204 85
Edgar Allan Poe is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best American Poets
The Raven, Annabel Lee, The Fall of the House of Usher

6
102 47
Wallace Stevens is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best American Poets
The Emperor of Ice-Cream, Harmonium, Invective Against Swans

7
96 45
E. E. Cummings is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best American Poets
The Enormous Room, Anyone Lived in a Pretty How Town, anyone lived in a pretty how town

8
92 57
Ezra Pound is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best American Poets
Social Credit. An Impact, The Cantos, A B C of economics

9
86 48
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best American Poets
Evangeline, A Tale of Acadie, The Village Blacksmith

10
77 42
William Carlos Williams is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best American Poets
In the American Grain, Spring and All, Sour Grapes

11
58 23
Sylvia Plath is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best American Poets
Ed Glomski added The Bell Jar, Ariel, The Collected Poems

12
59 37
Ralph Waldo Emerson is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best American Poets
The fortune of the Republic, English traits, Representative Men

13
84 45
Langston Hughes is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best American Poets
Fine Clothes to the Jew, Black Misery, Not Without Laughter

14
56 39
Elizabeth Bishop is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best American Poets
Elizabeth Bishop: Poems, Prose, and Letters

15
35 16
Carl Sandburg is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best American Poets
The Greatest Story Ever Told, Abraham Lincoln: The Prairie Years and the War Years, Chicago poems

16
42 31
Hart Crane is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best American Poets
Hart Crane: Complete Poems and Selected Letters, O My Land, My Friends: The Selected Letters of Hart Crane

17
36 22
Theodore Roethke is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best American Poets
The Far Field, The lost son, and other poems

18
30 17
John Berryman is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best American Poets
stubb added The Dream Songs, Berryman's Shakespeare, 77 Dream Songs

19
38 30
Marianne Moore is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best American Poets
The Selected Letters of Marianne Moore, Homage to Henry James, Tell me

20
49 37
Herman Melville is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best American Poets
looksharp added Moby-Dick; or, The Whale, The Confidence-Man

21
69 57
Charles Bukowski is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best American Poets
Barfly, Ham on Rye, Post Office

22
30 23
Gary Snyder is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best American Poets
The Practice of the Wild, Riprap and Cold Mountain Poems, Earth house hold

23
47 36
Robinson Jeffers is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best American Poets
The beginning & the end, and other poems, Z̆eny od mysu Sur

24
29 22
Richard Wilbur is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best American Poets
looksharp added Junior Great Books, Tartuffe, Poems 1943-1956

25
32 21
Adrienne Rich is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best American Poets
stubb added Diving into the Wreck: Poems 1971-1972, An Atlas of the Difficult World, Midnight Salvage: Poems 1995-1998

26
36 19
W. S. Merwin is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best American Poets
Selected Poems, Unframed Originals, Migration: New & Selected Poems

27
41 31
Mary Oliver is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best American Poets
Long Life: Essays And Other Writings, Why I Wake Early: New Poems, White Pine: Poems and Prose Poems

28
58 54
Allen Ginsberg is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best American Poets
Howl, Collected poems 1947-1980, Kaddish

29
35 30
Robert Lowell is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best American Poets
Life Studies, Collected Prose, Near the ocean

30
33 24
Allen Tate is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best American Poets
Hovering Fly and Other Essays, Collected Poems, 1919-1976

31
23 8
Anne Sexton is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best American Poets
Ed Glomski added Verwandlungen / Transformations, All My Pretty Ones, Live or Die

32
33 25
Robert Penn Warren is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Best American Poets
All the King's Men, American Literature, Flood

33
24 15
Edna St. Vincent Millay is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Best American Poets
Aaron Leininger added Fatal interview, The murder of Lidice, The harp-weaver and other poems

34
26 18
A. R. Ammons is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Best American Poets
Garbage, A Coast of Trees, Sphere

35
27 18
Gwendolyn Brooks is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Best American Poets
stubb added In the Mecca; Poems, Annie Allen

36
27 14
Henry David Thoreau is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Best American Poets
Ed Glomski added Walden, The Service, Civil Disobedience

37
21 19
Randall Jarrell is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Best American Poets
looksharp added Pictures from an Institution, No Other Book: Selected Essays, The third book of criticism

38
45 33
Bob Dylan is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Best American Poets
Ed Glomski added Chronicles: Volume One, Masked and Anonymous, Renaldo and Clara

39
60 65
Maya Angelou is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Best American Poets
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Sister, Sister

40
15 10
Frank O'Hara is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Best American Poets
stubb added Poems from the Tibor de Nagy editions, 1952-1966, Invitation to the theater

41
17 12
Louise Glück is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Best American Poets
Aaron Leininger added Averno, The Wild Iris, The Seven Ages

42
28 26
H.D. is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Best American Poets
Asphodel, Her, Red Roses for Bronze

43
21 27
Donald Davidson is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Best American Poets
looksharp added God chose them, Mente, Mundo Y Accion

44
16 13
Charles Wright is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Best American Poets
stubb added Black Zodiac, The Southern Cross, Chickamauga

45
37 30
John Ashbery is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Best American Poets
Hotel Lautréamont, Self-portrait in a Convex Mirror, Flow Chart

46
26 19
James Wright is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Best American Poets
A reply to Matthew Arnold, Saint Judas, The Cherry Red Non-league Newsdesk Annual

47
17 9
Wendell Berry is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Best American Poets
Ben Nelms added Jayber Crow, The hidden wound, Life Is a Miracle

48
23 23
John Crowe Ransom is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Best American Poets
The new criticism, complete poems of John Crowe Ransom, God without thunder

49
27 28
H. P. Lovecraft is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Best American Poets
Mollevangsvagen added The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Stories, At the Mountains of Madness, The Dunwich Horror and Others

50
18 12
Lawrence Ferlinghetti is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Best American Poets
Ben Nelms added Lawrence Ferlinghetti versei, A Coney Island of the Mind, The populist manifestos