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EYEWEAR'S LIST OF 175 OF THE KEY POETS OF THE 20TH CENTURY

NOTE: I have edited and expanded this to 175 poets, after receiving some helpful feedback and also making notes after insomnia.

If you are, fortunately for everyone, alive today, and you write and publish poetry, you are a 21st century poet.  Other poets, less lucky, have died in the last 100 years or so, but their great contribution to poetry continues.  Poems, of all the literary art forms, are perhaps the most generous gifts, because compared to the energy and effort involved in their creation, the material returns are the least - so they stand as bequests to eternity, or at least, posterity.

Even a weak, or minor, poet may create a poem or three that are wonderful, moving, crafty, cunning, potent, convincing, wise, helpful, funny or delightful - but below is a list of 175 poets, who have written in the English language primarily, who published most of their poetry in the 20th century, and are no longer with us, who gave us whole collections that were and are vital and necessary to read.

No doubt another 25 or more poets from Canada, America, Ireland, Great Britain, New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, and beyond, could flesh out a viable "canon" of 200+ 20th century English-language poets we should all read, but I think this list forms a very good start, and includes poets of all schools, styles, decades, eras, genders, and political leanings, more or less.

While debates will hopefully always continue in academic and critical circles about the value of certain poets and poems in terms of adding to the general literature of their age (where is Newbolt?), it seems, looking at this list, unlikely any new very major poets from the period under observation will appear, though a few very good lesser poets may receive their due.  Terence Tiller, for example, is a seriously good, very brilliant and exciting poet, and when I publish his Collected Poems next year, his canonical status should be re-established.  But he is not ever going to (it seems likely) be read as more significant than, say, near-contemporaries like Auden, Douglas or Larkin - partially because his impact on his time, his contemporaries, was less. His influence if it arrives, will be more posthumous, as was Hopkins.

Please let me know who you would want to see added.  This is of course not a definitive list.  But none of these 175 can really be left out. Happy Easter!
 



175 KEY ENGLISH-LANGUAGE POETS OF THE 20TH CENTURY (DECEASED)

ADRIENNE RICH

AE HOUSMAN

AI

AL PURDY

ALAN DUGAN

ALLEN GINSBERG

ALLEN TATE

ALUN LEWIS

AM KLEIN

AMY LOWELL

ANNE SEXTON

ANNE WILKINSON

ANTHONY HECHT

AR AMMONS

ARCHIBALD MACLEISH

ASJ TESSIMOND

AUSTIN CLARKE

BANJO PATTERSON

BARRY MACSWEENEY

BASIL BUNTING

BERNARD SPENCER

BOB COBBING

BRIAN COFFEY

CARL SANDBURG

CH SISSON

CHARLES CAUSLEY

CHARLES OLSON

CHARLOTTE MEW

CLAUDE MCKAY

COLE PORTER

CONRAD AIKEN

COUNTEE CULLEN

DARYL HINE

DAVID GASCOYNE

DAVID JONES

DELMORE SCHWARTZ

DENISE LEVERTOV

DH LAWRENCE

DIANA BREBNER

DON MARQUIS

DONALD DAVIE

DOROTHY HEWETT

DYLAN THOMAS

EDGAR LEE MASTERS

EDITH SITWELL

EDMUND BLUNDEN

EDNA ST VINCENT MILLAY

EDWARD DORN

EDWARD THOMAS

EDWIN ARLINGTON ROBINSON

EDWIN DENBY

EDWIN MORGAN

EDWIN MUIR

EE CUMMINGS

ELIZABETH BISHOP

ELIZABETH JENNINGS

EZRA POUND

FRANK O’HARA

FS FLINT

FT PRINCE

GAEL TURNBULL

GEORGE BARKER

GEORGE MACBETH

GEORGE MACKAY BROWN

GEORGE OPPEN

GREGORY CORSO

GWENDOLYN BROOKS

HAROLD MONRO

HART CRANE

HAYDEN CARRUTH

HENRY LAWSON

HENRY REED

HENRY TREECE

HILDA DOOLITTLE

HUGH MACDIARMID

IAN HAMILTON FINLAY

IRVING LAYTON

ISAAC ROSENBERG

JACK SPICER

JAMES K BAXTER

JAMES MERRILL

JAMES WRIGHT

JAY MACPHERSON

JF HENDRY

JOAN MURRAY

JOHN BERRYMAN

JOHN BETJEMAN

JOHN CROWE RANSOM

JOHN GLASSCO

JOHN HEATH-STUBBS

JON SILKIN

JUDITH WRIGHT

KARL SHAPIRO

KATHLEEN RAINE

KEITH DOUGLAS

KEN SMITH

KENNETH FEARING

KENNETH KOCH

KENNETH REXROTH

KINGSLEY AMIS

LANGSTON HUGHES

LAURA RIDING

LAWRENCE DURRELL

LEROI JONES/AMIRI BARAKA

LOUIS DUDEK

LOUIS MACNEICE

LOUIS ZUKOFSKY

LYNETTE ROBERTS

MALCOLM LOWRY

MARGARET AVISON

MARIANNE MOORE

MELVIN B TOLSON

MICHAEL DONAGHY

MILTON ACORN

MINA LOY

MIRIAM WADDINGTON

NICHOLAS MOORE

NOEL COWARD

NORMAN MACCAIG

PAT LOWTHER

PATRICK KAVANGH

PETER PORTER

PETER REDGROVE

PHILIP LARKIN

PK PAGE

RANDALL JARRELL

RAYMOND CARVER

REBECCA ELSON

RF LANGLEY

RICHARD EBERHART

RICHARD OUTRAM

ROBERT ALLEN

ROBERT CREELEY

ROBERT DUNCAN

ROBERT FROST

ROBERT GRAVES

ROBERT LOWELL

ROBERT PENN WARREN

ROBINSON JEFFERS

ROY FULLER

RS THOMAS

RUDYARD KIPLING

RUPERT BROOKE

SEAMUS HEANEY

SEAN RAFFERTY

SEBASTIAN BARKER

SIDNEY KEYES

SORLEY MACLEAN

STANLEY KUNITZ

STEPHEN SPENDER

STEVIE SMITH

SYLVIA PLATH

TE HULME

TED BERRIGAN

TED HUGHES

TERENCE TILLER

THEODORE ROETHKE

THOM GUNN

THOMAS HARDY

TS ELIOT

UA FANTHORPE

VACHEL LINDSAY

VALENTINE ACKLAND

VERONICA FORREST-THOMSON

WALLACE STEVENS

WALTER DE LA MARE

WB YEATS

WD SNODGRASS

WELDON KEES

WH AUDEN

WILFRID OWEN

WILLIAM CARLOS WILLIAMS

WILLIAM EMPSON

WS GRAHAM

WWE ROSS

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