Poetry is a long-treasured art form that has evolved from ancient times and has seen many use it to express their innermost thoughts and feelings with an artistic rhythm that is rarely found in other forms. However, outside of high-school English classes, many of us don't interact with poetry on any sort of regular basis with a fair few people saying that they just don't like it, either deterred by what they learned at school or unable to break down its complex rules and patterns just for the sake of enjoyment. Here we aim to change that and offer up 10 poets to consider for those who think they don't like poetry.
1. Charles Bukowski
Known as the godfather of lowlife literature both Bukowski's poetry and prose are simple, raw and honest in their unflashy portrayals of the drudgery of lower-class America. His poetry often picks up on the more mundane aspects of life but there is a bittersweet honesty about them that creates a candid and gritty view of the world in which he lived. Not one for using unnecessary and complex words, he writes on his own terms and does not shy away from the grotesque, the mundane or the obscene but rather embraces them in all of their glories.
Good Place to Start: The Last Night Of The Earth Poems
2. John Cooper Clarke
If poetry were rock and roll then John Cooper Clarke would be Johnny Rotten. Known as 'the punk poet', Clarke has performed on the same bill as bands such as the Sex Pistols, the Fall, Joy Division, the Buzzcocks, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Elvis Costello, Rockpile and New Order. A performance poet who can still be seen live today, Clarke grew up in Salford, near Manchester, in England and channeled his working-class roots into his poetry with subject matter including the nature of moral outrage in the British press, the package holiday and condemnations of people he has met using colorful language. Simple, scathing and playful, Clarke's poetry is often backed by music and holds a loyal following of those who do not consider themselves likers of poetry.
Good Place To Start: Ten Years In An Open Necked Shirt
3. Allen Ginsberg
The man that typified the beat movement, Ginsberg's poetry explores sexual and chemical experimentation as well as cynically critiquing the American government and way of life at the time, he produced, howling, raging winds of words that battered at the very concepts of obscenity and morality. Liberal and liberating in his use of language and curse words, Ginsberg does not hold back from targeting all that he sees wrong with the world and lets the poetry flow in energetic, chaotic tumbles and tumultuous writing that spin and snag with deft precision.
Good Place To Start: Howl, Kaddish and Other Poems
4. John Clare
Considered one of the most important English poets of the 19th century, Clare often wrote of rural living, nature and the disruption of it as he wrote on life as a humble farm laborer. Perhaps, however, his best work comes from the bouts of depression he suffered as he mournfully laments his existence and state of being in laconic beauty in such pieces as I Am. Clare is also noted for introducing colloquial terms from his Northamptonshire dialect into the literary canon and expanding the English language as a whole.
Good Place To Start: "I Am"
5. Benjamin Zephaniah
A British-Jamaican writer and dub poet, Zephaniah's writings have long been championed for challenging stereotypes and combatting racism, strongly influenced by the music and poetry of Jamaica and what he calls "street politics". Outspoken and outstanding, his poetry does not shy away from any issues and is championed for its celebrations of cultural diversity and use of colloquial language in order to open it up to wider audiences.
Good Place To Start: Too Black, Too Strong
6. Sharon Olds
An American poet who won the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for her work, Sharon Olds' writings focus on themselves and not an intended audience which is what makes them so personal and poignant. Many of pieces involve sex and abuse as well as family and relationships although she takes little inspiration from other confessional poets but rather more escapist ones. Often using a political context to frame her poetry, much of it explores the nature of being a woman in life, death, and political oppression much of it is intense and exhausting in its passion and mourning.
Good Place To Start: Stag's Leap
7. Li-Young Lee
An Asian-American poet who is often influenced by classical Chinese poetry, Li-Young Lee fuses and exploits language in order to force the reader to use their own imaginations with descriptions and settings as they are forced to go deeper on their own accord. Employing themes of simplicity, strength, and silence, the poetry of Lee creates gaps that have to be filled by the individual reader and so create a far more personalized experience than most.
Good Place To Start: The City In Which I Love You
8. Michael Rosen
Perhaps better known for his Children's literature, Michael Rosen has been at the forefront of the British literary and poetry scene for some time now. Rosen established himself with collections of humorous children's verse that are aimed at encouraging children into reading and writing their own poetry and used absurdist humor to draw them in. Not just for children, however, Rosen has several collections for the more advanced reader that employ the same open techniques. Often tackling complex issues, Rosen manages to simplify hard to understand subjects into touching pieces filled with wit and humanity that have made him a national treasure.
Good Place To Start: Carrying The Elephant
9. T S. Elliot
A British-American poet who became a master of the modernist movement, Eliot was renowned for his overlapping and fragmentary poems that made him one of the most important and quoted poets of the twentieth century. The man that brought the world a lament filled, caustic and stinging critique of the destruction of war in his The Hollow Men, also had a joyously playful side and wrote a collection of light verse solely about felines called Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats and was the basis for the smash-hit musical Cats. So highly lauded was his work that in 1948 he won the Nobel Prize for literature "for his outstanding, pioneer contribution to present-day poetry".
Good Place To Start: Collected Poems 1909-1962
10. W. B. Yeats
The first Irishman to win the Nobel Prize in Literature, much of Yeats greatest work is considered to be completed after he won the prize. Fascinated by Irish legends and the occult, there are dark turns within his words that lead the reader astray into eerie passages of the mind due to his uses of symbolism that had meaning outside of their literal provocations of thought. One such poem is the darkly poignant The Second Coming that uses Christian imagery of the apocalypse to describe the atmosphere of a post-war Europe.
Good Place To Start: Michael Robartes and the Dancer