Contemporary Poets

Hi Everyone,

Welcome to the Contemporary Poets section.

*A Poet Laureate (plural: Poets Laureate) is a poet officially appointed by a government and is often expected to compose poems for State occasions and other government events.

Angelou, Maya

Born 1928 in St. Louis Missouri, and suffered many hardships growing up. She overcame her difficult past to become known for her wonderful and intense poetry. In 1993 Angelou read On the Pulse of Morning at the Presidential Inauguration of Bill Clinton. Her poetry has won world recognition and literary awards.

Ashberry, John

Born in 1927, he is well known as a poet and as an art critic. Ashberry has won many prestigious awards, including the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, and the National Book Critics Circle Award.

Bly, Robert

Born in 1926 Minnesota in the U.S. He attended Harvard University where he joined a group of outstanding writers. He has completed many collections of poetry and is considered to be one of America’s pre-eminent poets today.

Chinmoy, Sri

Born in 1931 in East Bengal India (today known as Bangladesh) He spent more than 20 years of his early life in a spiritual community in southern India. Chinmoy emigrated to the United States in 1964, and has written many poems which encapsulates profound spiritual experiences.

Collins, Billy

Born in 1941 in New York City, U.S. He has written several books of poetry, including an anthology of contemporary poems for use in schools. Collin was named *Poet Laureate  of the United States from 2001 to 2003.

Giovanni, Niki

Born in 1943, in Knoxville, Tennessee. she is well known for her poems, and has won prestigious awards, including a Grammy Award for Best Spoken Word Album. She was commissioned by National Public Radio’s All Things Considered to create an inaugural poem for President Barack Obama. Giovanni is a professor at Virginia Tech University.

Hughes, Langston

Born in 1902 (-d. 1967) in Joplin, Missouri, U.S.  Hughes was known for his work concerning the Harlem Renaissance, and he is noted as  one of the earliest innovators of Jazz Poetry.

Merwin, W.S.

Born in New York City in 1927, and has produced more than 15 books of notable poetry. Merwin is a former Chancellor of The Academy of American Poets.

Nash, Ogden

(1902-1971) Born in Rye New York, U.S. His poetry was sometimes described as being whimsical and a bit facetious. Many of his verses featured his own brand of “off-kilter” rhyming devices.

Prelutsky, Jack

Born in 1940 in Brooklyn, New York, in the U.S. He is noted for his light-hearted, and humorous poetry, specifically for children. Prelutsky was named the first  * Children’s Poet Laureate by the Poetry Foundation.

Rich, Andrienne

Born in 1929 in Baltimore, U.S. She has published over 16 volumes of poetry. Rich has won numerous prizes for her work, including National Book Award, The Poet’s Prize, and The MacAuthor Fellowship.


The following are samples of poems by the poets, to give you an idea of their styles.

Maya Angelou — Inaugural Poem (1993)

John AshberryMottled Tuesday

Robert Bly — Snowbanks North of the House

Sri Chinmoy -Apocalypse

Billy  Collins — Fishing On The Susquehanna In July

Niki  Giovanni — A Poem Of Friendship

Langston  Hughes Dream Deferred

W. S. Merwin  — Thanks

Ogden  Nash No Doctor’s Today, Thank You

Jack  PrelutskyLast Night I Dreamed of Chickens

Andrienne RichIn a Classroom