In no particular order

Top 20 Favorite Dead Poets

Shelley – C Rossetti – Shakespeare – EB Browning – S Crane – Dickinson – Wordsworth – Milton – Stevens – Zukofsky – Eliot – Creeley – Eigner – Stein – Williams – Rukeyser – Niedecker – Whitman – Coleridge – Celan

I’m glad this post is automatically date-stamped so I don’t have to belabor the fact that this material is time-sensitive– my mind may change, dead poets may resurface, etc.


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18 Responses to In no particular order

  1. kathryn says:

    i can’t believe you left me off yr list.

  2. You’re not dead, dear! (You did wake up from that nap, right?)

  3. Paul Squires says:

    They share a certain lyrical sensibility. They all seem like muscial poets who took great delight in playing with language.

  4. Mark L. says:

    The real question is, who is your favorite undead poet?

  5. What fascinates me is that you only have six women on your list.

  6. Well, I don’t know of that many female poets writing prior to the 20th century (that is, who are now dead). If I were to list my favorite living poets, most of them would be women– probably an inverse ratio of 14 women : 6 men. Turns out, when you teach women how to read and write, they’re pretty good at it. 😛

  7. Ken says:

    Regarding undead poets, though his poetry written since 1999 has gone unpublished because of its disturbing nature, it is a well-known in certain circles that Shel Silverstein continues his creative work, now as an unholy revenant kept “alive” by an alchemical concoction composed of bacon rinds and chicken bones,
    Drippy ends of ice cream cones,
    Prune pits, peach pits, orange peel,
    Gloppy glumps of cold oatmeal,
    Pizza crusts and withered greens,
    Soggy beans and tangerines,
    Crusts of black burned buttered toast,
    Gristly bits of beefy roasts. . .

    Unsurprisingly, he continues to reside and vote in the state of Florida.

  8. Ken says:

    Also, though lycanthropes are not traditionally counted amongst the undead, I would be remiss were I not to mention the tragic case of A.A. Milne. Alas for that dread November night in 1916 in the shattered forest surrounding Somme, when Lieutenant Milne of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment stumbled upon, and was mauled by, The Beast. His struggle with his affliction and the hunger that it brought devastated his life but brought such poignancy to his writing. Declared dead by a secret Act of Parliament in 1956, his sad roar may sometimes still be heard in the depths of Ashdown Forest. Three times in his life the unflappably oedipal Christopher Robin Milne mounted silver-loaded expeditions to end his father’s suffering, only to find that each time the tracks he followed were his own.

  9. Ken says:

    Oh, and Lewis Carroll was a bit of a creep.

  10. kathryn says:

    am i?

    if i am, why is Ric Royer yr favorite?

    o, i can’t be mad about that. he is quite lovely….

  11. Glad to see Rukeyser here. She’s yet to get full consideration.

  12. yesisaidyesiwillyes says:

    I’m right with you for eight of the twenty, in no particular order.

  13. @Ken Glad you enjoyed this topic 😉 … Of course Carroll was a creep!

    @Kate Undead. Not “not dead.” Or are you the living dead? Hm. We should talk.

    @Doug I list her b/c I’m always thinking of her while driving on US1.

    @Steve Which 8? … Evidently I love the 19thC.

    Hard to leave so many non-poets off this list, like Woolf, Kafka, Deleuze, Derrida, Duchamp– who are so poetic. And I love Dada/Surrealism but none of those poets, taken individually, made the list.

  14. Shakespeare — Dickinson — Wordsworth — Milton — Stein — Williams — Whitman — Coleridge

    I’d add: Loy — Lamantia — Rexroth — Peret — Elsa Gidlow — RD — Blake — Reznikoff — Rimbaud — Harry Crosby

    and that leaves two slots but that’s as far as I go because at this point the inclusions and exclusions get really really really difficult . . . .

  15. @Steve ditto, exclusions/inclusions got difficult for me when I got to about 15. I can’t believe I left out Blake! I’d put him above Rukeyser, although I’m glad I listed her initially because as Doug argues, she deserves more attention. But that would put me at 15 men: 5 women. I like Reznikoff too, and while we’re at it, Laura Fucking Riding Jackson! OMG. I don’t know Crosby, Peret, Gidlow.

  16. Matt says:

    Laura {Fucking} (Riding) Jackson


    She is awesome. And the whole giving up poetry thing! I need to read more of her.

  17. Elsa Gidlow probably is an idiosyncratic thing, just as is Harry Crosby. Very few if any would call the work of those two essential or epoch-making, but the list is for favorites, and they are among the poets I enjoy reading year after year.

    Gidlow’s poetry can be pretty staid (not experimental) but I like it. She has a short quatrain that I’ll never not like, tho maybe it’s hokey. It’s called “You Say” and it goes:

    You say I am mysterious.
    Let me explain myself:
    In a land of oranges
    I am faithful to apples.


    And I know what you mean about freaking out when you realize that somebody wasn’t included on the list. I left off Hugh MacDiarmid. I have about 15 of his books, at least 70 or 80 poems bookmarked in his two-volume collected edition (which is shelved right near the bed), and about 7.5 hours on my iTunes of him reciting, or other people reciting or singing, his poems. I can’t believe I didn’t remember him! If he weren’t dead, he’d kick my ass!

    And then there’s Donne and Spicer, Dante and Paz, etc. etc.

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