Who is the greatestliving poet???

I have heard so many opinions on this issue. But my professor has asked us to write an essy on who the greatest living poets is in America. He told us to get the answer at greatestlivingpoets.com. Who is Mark Stobo? I have only hear names of people that I have never heard before. Why are so many so-called great poets totally unknown to the average educated person? I never thougth people so important could be so unknown to the streamlined Popular culture. Would like to get the view of the average person in Yahoo for my report. Please help me figure this out. If there really is a GLP, then what does it say about America that it is also the greatest secret to most Americans? Comments?

8 Answers

  • bfrank
    Lv 5
    1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    What a good question you've asked -- your first on Yahoo! Answers, I notice.

    I wish it were receiving good answers. But it's a hard question to answer at this time.

    The mere fact that two respondents answer Edgar Allen (misspelled) Poe indicates one problem: to most Americans there are NO living American poets, only DOWM (I.e., dead old white men).

    If your question had been who are the most popular living poets, ani difranco and Maya Angelou would be good answers, for both speak directly to the people and they have been heard. But do they belong in the same category as, say, Rumi and Hafiz, Dante and Shakespeare, Wordsworth, Coleridge and Keats, William Blake, Robert Frost and Langston Hughes, Marianne Moore and Elizabeth Bishop, Robert Lowell and Sylvia Plath, James Dickey and Howard Nemerov? I hardly think so.

    So who are the greatest living poets? And why is the question so hard to answer?

    All I can do is to give you my partial, inadequate, inaccurate answers to a question that deserves better. (And, by the way, your thoughtful response to GupilPupil’s poem, “away,” persuades me that you will know a partial, inadequate, inaccurate answer for what it is.)

    First, let me answer a bit facetiously: the greatest living poets are Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Ezra Pound (or maybe T. S. Eliot), and Allen Ginsberg (or my preference Laurence Ferlinghetti). The work of these poets is still living, and speaking to our generation, of our time, in our language. They recognized that the great poetry of the 16th, 17th,18th, and 19th centuries was, indeed, truly great, but that it did not speak of and for the modern age: their generation, their people, in their language. So they reinvented poetry: each in his/her own way for his/her own generation in his/her own language. They may not have been recognized in their own time (two of them even withheld their works from public scrutiny), but they spoke of and for their own times. These great poets still speak to us--brilliantly, vibrantly, eloquently. But they do not speak of and for us, for we live in a vitally and violently different world. They do, indeed, live on: “As long as men shall live and eyes shall see, / So long lives this and this gives life to thee.”

    Second, let me answer on behalf of the Establishment. For you see, at least in the United States, something happened in the second half of the 20th century that both enhanced and undermined “living poetry.” Robert Frost had spoken to the American reader and he was heard. To this point in time he has been the only great American poet who was a popular, public poet in his own lifetime, a true “laureate.” On the other hand, T. S. Eliot had spoken to and for the American intellectual, and he was heard. Scholars adopted him; critics adopted him; poets adopted (and attempted to imitate) him; the Academy adopted him. By the time of his death, colleges and universities all over the US were establishing what might be called “poetry chairs.” Living poets were employed as professors to teach young poets. and to devote time to writing poetry that would appeal to intellectuals. Thus, the Establishment.

    Suddenly hundreds of poets were employed; they were tenured and well paid and publicly recognized. The only problem is that they begin to write to and for one another, and they lost the reading public. Who decides which poets will be published in literary reviews and by university presses? The poetry professorate, of course. Who decides whose works will be included in anthologies and studied in university classrooms? The poetry professorate, of course. Who decides which poets will get the awards (like the Walt Whitman Award, for example) and which poets will get tenure and which poets will be named Poet Laureate? The professorate, of course. Walt Whitman probably never would have made it, just as Emily Dickinson didn’t. Robert Frost might never have made it. Ginsberg and Ferlinghetti wouldn’t have made it if students had not discovered the Beat Generation on their own and insisted (in the 1960s, of course) that their voices be heard.

    So ask the Establishment who the greatest living poets are? You will get a long list of answers. Richard Wilbur and Donald Hall will probably be near the top of the list -- deservedly so. They might even have been celebrated by the reading public, but they were identified with the Academy while ani difranco and Maya Angelou were identified with their times.

    Third, let me answer on behalf of a recent movement in poetry circles. Billy Collins speaks most articulately of its values. He writes and, as poet laureate, promoted “accessible” poetry. Ted Kooser did the same thing. So would Mary Oliver, if she be given the opportunity. And there are others. Collins’ anthologies, developed first to provide poems for reading aloud on high-school intercoms, without commentary or analysis, are Poetry 180: A Turning Back to Poetry and 180 More: Extraordinary Poems for Every Day. Garrison Keillor, of Prairie Home Companion fame, has also been a leader in the movement -- through his five-minute, daily radio program, Writer’s Almanac, and through his anthologies Good Poems and Good Poems for Hard Times. As Poet Laureate, Ted Kooser prepared a daily newspaper column, “American Life in Poetry.” These efforts -- and poetry slams that are popping up spontaneously all over the country -- are reestablishing poetry as a popular art. They are bringing the public poems that speak to and for the public.

    Once again, however, there is a bit of a problem. As one reviewer of Collins’ Poetry 180 said (and the same could be said of much of Collins’ own poetry, as appealing and entertaining as it is): “In this anthology I read 180 high quality, contemporary poems. Each one of them worthy of the time it took to read them. However, at the end of the book none of them stood out in my mind -- not even a line or an image. They are all ultimately forgettable poems. None speak to a reader in a manner that says "This is why there is poetry. This is what can be said only through poetry. This speaks what I was feeling."

    As best I can understand that webpage, greatestlivingpoets.com, and the GLP Project of Mark Staber Kobo, he is attempting to address precisely this issue. But the problem with his wordy manifesto is that it still speaks of and to the Academy and his poetry does NOT speak of, to, or for the reading public. And I’m not completely convinced that Ziggy Stardust is the role model we’re looking for, though I must admit Kobo has an interesting point to make about the role-playing involved in his “pose.” Kobo certainly speaks for a whole generation when he says, “Lines from popular songs have been the single greatest cultural influence in my life - overshadowing any past or current poetic authority.”

    The point is that Collins’ and Keillor’s and Kooser’s selections are “good poems,” and I for one cherish them. They speak to and for the reader. They are not yet great poems. They do not speak of and for our age -- the way Wordsworth and Whitman and Eliot and Ginsberg did.

    But someone will, someone will.

    Somewhere out there Emily Dickinson or Gerard Manley Hopkins -- OK, maybe a Ziggy Stardust -- is remaking poetry: remaking poetic language, rethinking poetic form, reenvisioning the place of poetry in our lives. Somewhere.

    It won’t be the traditional poetry of Robert Frost; it won’t be the allusive, “academic” poetry of T. S. Eliot; it won’t be the “accessible” poetry of Billy Collins. A hundred or two hundred years from now, when the literary history of the 21st century is written, there will be another of the “greatest living poets” headlined in those pages.

    But, for now, to answer your question: Who is the greatestlivingpoet?

    I don’t know.

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  • Barbiq
    Lv 6
    1 decade ago

    Maya Angelou she has written some of the most meaningful, eloquent, heartfelt poems I have ever heard. She has graced the Today show, Touched by an Angel, and many national functions with her talent.

    Frankly the American population doesn't read, understand, appreciate, or is taught much about poetry. It's really a shame. There are many great aspiring poets out there writing quietly in a notebook home alone afraid to expose their work to the light of the public...

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  • tokarz
    Lv 4
    3 years ago

    I were referred to as a helpless romantic all of my lifestyles since I refuse to look simplest the dangerous. When anybody is complaining approximately anything, appear to me if you wish to have a difference, I will see what well lies inside. Romantic since I love sky looking, the clouds, the solar, the moon..... I am grounded in my ideals and so they advisor me via my course in lifestyles. Even as a little one I did not swallow the whole lot I was once instructed, I had to realize the whys and wherefores of the whole lot! (Back then they referred to as it uprising!) Am I a poet, I do not consider so. If I write anything that actions anybody, that's a poem however does not make me a poet, only a conduit of affection and stirred emotions.

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  • 1 decade ago

    Personaly I think all the greatest are dead, and the greatest living poet is subject to you and you only not some website or one poet appointed by some panel of stuffy old "experts", dont let them box you in! make your own choice!

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  • 1 decade ago

    I thnk edgar allen poe is the greatest poet of all time. He is also a great short story writer

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  • 1 decade ago

    i think ani difranco is an amazing poet

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  • 1 decade ago

    Gee I dunno. Is Rod McKuen still around?


    I kid. My last greatest living poet, James Dickey, has been dead about a decade. Sorry I can't help.

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  • 1 decade ago

    Edgar Allen Poe

    Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,

    Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,

    While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,

    As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.

    "'Tis some visitor," I muttered, "tapping at my chamber door-

    Only this, and nothing more."

    Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December,

    And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.

    Eagerly I wished the morrow;- vainly I had sought to borrow

    From my books surcease of sorrow- sorrow for the lost Lenore-

    For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore-

    Nameless here for evermore.

    And the silken sad uncertain rustling of each purple curtain

    Thrilled me- filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;

    So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating,

    "'Tis some visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door-

    Some late visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door;-

    This it is, and nothing more."

    Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,

    "Sir," said I, "or Madam, truly your forgiveness I implore;

    But the fact is I was napping, and so gently you came rapping,

    And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door,

    That I scarce was sure I heard you"- here I opened wide the door;-

    Darkness there, and nothing more.

    Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering,


    Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortals ever dared to dream before;

    But the silence was unbroken, and the stillness gave no token,

    And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, "Lenore!"

    This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word, "Lenore!"-

    Merely this, and nothing more.

    Back into the chamber turning, all my soul within me burning,

    Soon again I heard a tapping somewhat louder than before.

    "Surely," said I, "surely that is something at my window lattice:

    Let me see, then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore-

    Let my heart be still a moment and this mystery explore;-

    'Tis the wind and nothing more."

    Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and


    In there stepped a stately raven of the saintly days of yore;

    Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed


    But, with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door-

    Perched upon a bust of Pallas just above my chamber door-

    Perched, and sat, and nothing more.

    Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,

    By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore.

    "Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou," I said, "art sure no


    Ghastly grim and ancient raven wandering from the Nightly shore-

    Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night's Plutonian shore!"

    Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore."

    Much I marvelled this ungainly fowl to hear discourse so plainly,

    Though its answer little meaning- little relevancy bore;

    For we cannot help agreeing that no living human being

    Ever yet was blest with seeing bird above his chamber door-

    Bird or beast upon the sculptured bust above his chamber door,

    With such name as "Nevermore."

    But the raven, sitting lonely on the placid bust, spoke only

    That one word, as if his soul in that one word he did outpour.

    Nothing further then he uttered- not a feather then he fluttered-

    Till I scarcely more than muttered, "other friends have flown


    On the morrow he will leave me, as my hopes have flown before."

    Then the bird said, "Nevermore."

    Startled at the stillness broken by reply so aptly spoken,

    "Doubtless," said I, "what it utters is its only stock and store,

    Caught from some unhappy master whom unmerciful Disaster

    Followed fast and followed faster till his songs one burden bore-

    Till the dirges of his Hope that melancholy burden bore

    Of 'Never- nevermore'."

    But the Raven still beguiling all my fancy into smiling,

    Straight I wheeled a cushioned seat in front of bird, and bust and


    Then upon the velvet sinking, I betook myself to linking

    Fancy unto fancy, thinking what this ominous bird of yore-

    What this grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt and ominous bird of yore

    Meant in croaking "Nevermore."

    This I sat engaged in guessing, but no syllable expressing

    To the fowl whose fiery eyes now burned into my bosom's core;

    This and more I sat divining, with my head at ease reclining

    On the cushion's velvet lining that the lamplight gloated o'er,

    But whose velvet violet lining with the lamplight gloating o'er,

    She shall press, ah, nevermore!

    Then methought the air grew denser, perfumed from an unseen censer

    Swung by Seraphim whose footfalls tinkled on the tufted floor.

    "Wretch," I cried, "thy God hath lent thee- by these angels he

    hath sent thee

    Respite- respite and nepenthe, from thy memories of Lenore!

    Quaff, oh quaff this kind nepenthe and forget this lost Lenore!"

    Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore."

    "Prophet!" said I, "thing of evil!- prophet still, if bird or


    Whether Tempter sent, or whether tempest tossed thee here ashore,

    Desolate yet all undaunted, on this desert land enchanted-

    On this home by horror haunted- tell me truly, I implore-

    Is there- is there balm in Gilead?- tell me- tell me, I implore!"

    Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore."

    "Prophet!" said I, "thing of evil- prophet still, if bird or


    By that Heaven that bends above us- by that God we both adore-

    Tell this soul with sorrow laden if, within the distant Aidenn,

    It shall clasp a sainted maiden whom the angels name Lenore-

    Clasp a rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore."

    Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore."

    "Be that word our sign in parting, bird or fiend," I shrieked,


    "Get thee back into the tempest and the Night's Plutonian shore!

    Leave no black plume as a token of that lie thy soul hath spoken!

    Leave my loneliness unbroken!- quit the bust above my door!

    Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my


    Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore."

    And the Raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting

    On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;

    And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon's that is dreaming,

    And the lamplight o'er him streaming throws his shadow on the


    And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor

    Shall be lifted- nevermore!

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