writers 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
85 40
Emily Dickinson is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best American Poets
Emily Dickinson The complete poems, The letters, Acts of Light: The World of Emily Dickinson

The Best Poets of the 20th Century The Scariest Novels of All Time

2
83 35
T. S. Eliot is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best American Poets
T. S. Eliot The Waste Land, The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats

3
75 30
Walt Whitman is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best American Poets
Walt Whitman Leaves of Grass, Song of Myself, Words of Ages

4
65 27
Robert Frost is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best American Poets
Robert Frost The Collected Poems, Come in, The Road Not Taken

5
96 37
Edgar Allan Poe is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best American Poets
Edgar Allan Poe The Raven, Annabel Lee, The Fall of the House of Usher

6
55 25
Ezra Pound is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best American Poets
Ezra Pound Social Credit. An Impact, The Cantos, A B C of economics

7
43 18
Wallace Stevens is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best American Poets
Wallace Stevens The Emperor of Ice-Cream, Harmonium, Invective Against Swans

8
43 23
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best American Poets
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow Evangeline, A Tale of Acadie, The Village Blacksmith

9
42 19
E. E. Cummings is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best American Poets
E. E. Cummings The Enormous Room, Anyone Lived in a Pretty How Town, anyone lived in a pretty how town

10
32 15
William Carlos Williams is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best American Poets
William Carlos Williams In the American Grain, Spring and All, Sour Grapes

11
37 19
Robinson Jeffers is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best American Poets
Robinson Jeffers The beginning & the end, and other poems, Z̆eny od mysu Sur

12
16 4
John Berryman is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best American Poets
stubb added John Berryman The Dream Songs, Berryman's Shakespeare, 77 Dream Songs

13
21 12
Hart Crane is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best American Poets
Hart Crane Hart Crane: Complete Poems and Selected Letters, O My Land, My Friends: The Selected Letters of Hart Crane

14
22 13
Robert Lowell is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best American Poets
Robert Lowell Life Studies, Collected Prose, Near the ocean

15
25 14
Allen Tate is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best American Poets
Allen Tate Hovering Fly and Other Essays, Collected Poems, 1919-1976

The Greatest Poets of All Time The Most Overrated Books of All Time

16
26 18
Ralph Waldo Emerson is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best American Poets
Ralph Waldo Emerson The fortune of the Republic, English traits, Representative Men

17
23 13
Robert Penn Warren is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best American Poets
Robert Penn Warren All the King's Men, American Literature, Flood

18
19 10
Theodore Roethke is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best American Poets
Theodore Roethke The Far Field, The lost son, and other poems

19
23 17
Marianne Moore is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best American Poets
Marianne Moore The Selected Letters of Marianne Moore, Homage to Henry James, Tell me

20
31 23
Herman Melville is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best American Poets
looksharp added Herman Melville Moby-Dick; or, The Whale, The Confidence-Man

21
30 26
Elizabeth Bishop is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best American Poets
Elizabeth Bishop Elizabeth Bishop: Poems, Prose, and Letters

22
18 17
Donald Davidson is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best American Poets
looksharp added Donald Davidson God chose them, Mente, Mundo Y Accion

23
20 13
H. P. Lovecraft is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best American Poets
Mollevangsvagen added H. P. Lovecraft The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Stories, At the Mountains of Madness, The Dunwich Horror and Others

24
17 6
W. S. Merwin is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best American Poets
W. S. Merwin Selected Poems, Unframed Originals, Migration: New & Selected Poems

25
34 28
Charles Bukowski is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best American Poets
Charles Bukowski Barfly, Ham on Rye, Post Office

26
15 9
A. R. Ammons is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best American Poets
A. R. Ammons Garbage, A Coast of Trees, Sphere

27
13 10
Gary Snyder is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best American Poets
Gary Snyder The Practice of the Wild, Riprap and Cold Mountain Poems, Earth house hold

28
13 7
Adrienne Rich is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best American Poets
stubb added Adrienne Rich Diving into the Wreck: Poems 1971-1972, An Atlas of the Difficult World, Midnight Salvage: Poems 1995-1998

29
13 3
Sylvia Plath is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best American Poets
Ed Glomski added Sylvia Plath The Bell Jar, Ariel, The Collected Poems

The Best African American Poets of All Time The Best Things About Fall

30
19 15
H.D. is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best American Poets
H.D. Asphodel, Her, Red Roses for Bronze

31
17 13
John Crowe Ransom is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best American Poets
John Crowe Ransom The new criticism, complete poems of John Crowe Ransom, God without thunder

32
15 14
Richard Wilbur is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Best American Poets
looksharp added Richard Wilbur Junior Great Books, Tartuffe, Poems 1943-1956

33
7 3
Carl Sandburg is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Best American Poets
Carl Sandburg The Greatest Story Ever Told, Abraham Lincoln: The Prairie Years and the War Years, Chicago poems

34
6 2
Frank O'Hara is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Best American Poets
stubb added Frank O'Hara Poems from the Tibor de Nagy editions, 1952-1966, Invitation to the theater

35
7 3
Edna St. Vincent Millay is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Best American Poets
Aaron Leininger added Edna St. Vincent Millay Fatal interview, The murder of Lidice, The harp-weaver and other poems

36
7 4
Anne Morrow Lindbergh is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Best American Poets
Mollevangsvagen added Anne Morrow Lindbergh Gift from the Sea, Listen! the Wind, North to the Orient

37
5 2
Louise Glück is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Best American Poets
Aaron Leininger added Louise Glück Averno, The Wild Iris, The Seven Ages

38
19 18
Mary Oliver is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Best American Poets
Mary Oliver Long Life: Essays And Other Writings, Why I Wake Early: New Poems, White Pine: Poems and Prose Poems

39
9 10
Randall Jarrell is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Best American Poets
looksharp added Randall Jarrell Pictures from an Institution, No Other Book: Selected Essays, The third book of criticism

40
6 4
Kenneth Rexroth is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Best American Poets
_1448986614958 added Kenneth Rexroth Tufu - Kenneth Rexroth - Brice Marden, On Flower Wreath Hill, Excerpts from a life

41
23 18
John Ashbery is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Best American Poets
John Ashbery Hotel Lautréamont, Self-portrait in a Convex Mirror, Flow Chart

42
9 11
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Cat Allen added Hedwig Gorski Poetique; East of Eden Band; Polish Gypsy With Ghost; Snatches of theVisible Unreal; Intoxication: Heathcliff on Powell Street; Booby, Mama!; 13 Donuts; Beasts & Saints - Among the most neglected living poets in America, the poetry establishment is afraid of her work. Gorski is an innovator who named performance poetry and first to write only for performance and not for books or journals. Later ...

43
8 3
Henry David Thoreau is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Best American Poets
Ed Glomski added Henry David Thoreau Walden, The Service, Civil Disobedience

The Greatest Black Female Poets The Best Pudding Brands

44
5 4
Stephen Crane is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Best American Poets
stubb added Stephen Crane The Red Badge of Courage, The Red Badge of Courage, Poems of Stephen Crane

45
13 9
James Wright is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Best American Poets
James Wright A reply to Matthew Arnold, Saint Judas, The Cherry Red Non-league Newsdesk Annual

46
10 7
Edwin Arlington Robinson is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Best American Poets
Edwin Arlington Robinson Children of The Night, The town down the river, The valley of the shadow

47
28 36
Allen Ginsberg is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Best American Poets
Allen Ginsberg Howl, Collected poems 1947-1980, Kaddish

48
35 34
Langston Hughes is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Best American Poets
Langston Hughes Fine Clothes to the Jew, Black Misery, Not Without Laughter

49
7 4
Bob Dylan is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Best American Poets
Ed Glomski added Bob Dylan Chronicles: Volume One, Masked and Anonymous, Renaldo and Clara

50
5 2
Anne Sexton is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Best American Poets
Ed Glomski added Anne Sexton Verwandlungen / Transformations, All My Pretty Ones, Live or Die