American People 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.
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list ordered by

1
267 111
Walt Whitman is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best American Poets
Leaves of Grass, Song of Myself, Words of Ages

2
266 121
Robert Frost is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best American Poets
The Collected Poems, Come in, The Road Not Taken

3
259 118
Emily Dickinson is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best American Poets
The complete poems, The letters, Acts of Light: The World of Emily Dickinson

4
197 79
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
240 95
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
116 56
E. E. Cummings is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best American Poets
The Enormous Room, Anyone Lived in a Pretty How Town, anyone lived in a pretty how town

7
116 59
Wallace Stevens is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best American Poets
The Emperor of Ice-Cream, Harmonium, Invective Against Swans

8
100 61
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best American Poets
Evangeline, A Tale of Acadie, The Village Blacksmith

9
100 70
Ezra Pound is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best American Poets
Social Credit. An Impact, The Cantos, A B C of economics

10
107 52
Langston Hughes is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best American Poets
Fine Clothes to the Jew, Black Misery, Not Without Laughter

11
88 54
William Carlos Williams is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best American Poets
In the American Grain, Spring and All, Sour Grapes

12
76 35
Sylvia Plath is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best American Poets
Ed Glomski added The Bell Jar, Ariel, The Collected Poems

13
70 47
Ralph Waldo Emerson is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best American Poets
The fortune of the Republic, English traits, Representative Men

14
46 22
Carl Sandburg is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best American Poets
The Greatest Story Ever Told, Abraham Lincoln: The Prairie Years and the War Years, Chicago poems

15
62 46
Elizabeth Bishop is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best American Poets
Elizabeth Bishop: Poems, Prose, and Letters

16
52 36
Mary Oliver is listed (or ranked) 16 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

17
59 44
Herman Melville is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best American Poets
looksharp added Moby-Dick; or, The Whale, The Confidence-Man

18
35 26
Gary Snyder is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best American Poets
The Practice of the Wild, Riprap and Cold Mountain Poems, Earth house hold

19
81 67
Charles Bukowski is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best American Poets
Barfly, Ham on Rye, Post Office

20
46 38
Hart Crane is listed (or ranked) 20 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

21
36 22
Gwendolyn Brooks is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best American Poets
stubb added In the Mecca; Poems, Annie Allen

22
33 20
Edna St. Vincent Millay is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best American Poets
Aaron Leininger added Fatal interview, The murder of Lidice, The harp-weaver and other poems

23
30 11
Anne Sexton is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best American Poets
Ed Glomski added Verwandlungen / Transformations, All My Pretty Ones, Live or Die

24
38 26
Theodore Roethke is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best American Poets
The Far Field, The lost son, and other poems

25
34 22
John Berryman is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best American Poets
stubb added The Dream Songs, Berryman's Shakespeare, 77 Dream Songs