April Poetry Roundup (and Giveaway!): 30 Favorite Poems

In honor of this 30th day of National Poetry Month, we’ve listed 30 of our favorite poems of all time. This is by no means an exhaustive list of the best poems out there, but it is a list of poems that have moved us, stuck with us, and kept us going.

Do you have a favorite poem that isn’t listed? Tell us about it and link to it in the comments for a chance to win a copy of Julia Alvarez’s poetry collection The Woman I Kept to Myself. Please also check out Alvarez’s beautiful memoir A Wedding in Haiti, which just came out last week.

Lauren’s Picks:

“Musée des Beaux Arts” by W. H. Auden

“I felt a Funeral, in my Brain” by Emily Dickinson

“Needs” by Stuart Dischell

“fire” by Nick Flynn

Chosen by the Lion” by Linda Gregg

“A Story About the Body” by Robert Hass

“Piss Christ” by Andrew Hudgins

“Nude Interrogation” by Yusef Komunyakaa

“My Story in a Late Style of Fire” by Larry Levis

“Archaic Torso of Apollo” by Rainer Maria Rilke

“Old Joke” by Alan Shapiro

“Duende” by Tracy K. Smith

“Door in the Mountain” by Jean Valentine

“Lying in a Hammock at William Duffy’s Farm in Pine Island, Minnesota” by James Wright

“Adam’s Curse” by W. B. Yeats

Megan’s Picks:

“The Distances” by Jim Carroll

“love is more thicker than forget” by e. e. cummings

“All This and More” by Mary Karr

“A Fable” by Robert Kelly

“Happiness” by Jane Kenyon

“Food of Love” by Carolyn Kizer

“Love Song”by Carol Muske-Dukes

“One Hundred Love Sonnets: XVII” by Pablo Neruda

“Steps” by Frank O’Hara

“Know-Nothing” by Sharon Olds

“Beggar’s Song” by Gregory Orr

“Love Song” by Dorothy Parker

“Thin” by Kay Ryan

“All My Pretty Ones” by Anne Sexton

“Eating Poetry” by Mark Strand


21 Comments On This Post:

April 30, 2012
10:40 am
Alena Murguia says...

I’ve never read Mary Karr’s poetry so I’ll have to consider that. I would add to your list the work of Billy Collins. Of course I can’t think of a title off the top of my head, but I read a lot of his work in April.

April 30, 2012
10:42 am
Cindy Amrhein says...

My favorite poem is “Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout” by Shel Silverstein. In 5th grade we had to memorize a story, speech, etc as part of a school assembly on public speaking. The above is what I picked. Let’s just say I woke up the audience and made them laugh. It is still my favorite and I still remember all of it, and I’m 50something.

In Perry. NY where I live we do an event every year called “Poetry in Motion.” All the local writers print out their poems (and we do use some from famous poets)and they are taped to the windows of the businesses along Main Street for the last weekend in April. It’s amazing how many people stop to read them, or pull one off to take home.

April 30, 2012
10:46 am
Cindy Amrhein says...

Oops! Forgot to post the link to my poem choice, “Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout.”. Here is one http://mste.illinois.edu/courses/ci407su01/students/north/kristy/Project/K-Poem-Net.html

April 30, 2012
12:52 pm
merry cooper says...

I am a a crazy fan of Emily Dickinson. So happy her poem “I felt a Funeral in my brain” will be one of the special poems in the collection.

April 30, 2012
12:56 pm
Edward Schuldt says...

W.H. Auden, Funeral Blues. http://www.wussu.com/poems/whafb.htm
T.S. Eliot, Journey of the Magi. http://www.americanpoems.com/poets/tseliot/6602
Hilaire Belloc, Rebecca: Who Slammed Doors for Fun and Perished Miserably. http://poetry.poetryx.com/poems/6193/

April 30, 2012
1:23 pm
Jennifer Higgins says...

Excellent lists. My all time favourite poem in “Funeral Blues” by W.H. Auden.

April 30, 2012
1:30 pm
rhonda says...

Anything. By Emily Dickinson

April 30, 2012
2:04 pm
Gary Boyer says...

Picking a favorite poem is, of course, impossible. But just at this moment, I’m thinking of “Sunday Morning” by Wallace Stevens.

April 30, 2012
2:41 pm
Norma Wilson says...

Robert Frost’s Nothing Gold Can Stay. Willows in early spring and bumpy changes in life always call it to mind. So few words saying so much about ends/renewals.

April 30, 2012
2:56 pm
Emily Shearer says...

Where is Walt Whitman? I never knew how much I appreciated his poetry until this April. We read a poem every night at the dinner table, and time and again, I found myself choosing his words. They are accessible to my children, ages 5, 9, and 12, and I think it’s important that we teach our kids that there is poetry out there for them beyond Shel Silverstein. (Who is WONDERFUL.)

April 30, 2012
3:36 pm
ruthie says...

“Wrinkles” by Erica Jong gets me every time!

April 30, 2012
3:49 pm
DC says...

Billy Collins has so many great ones, but LANYARD is my favorite!

April 30, 2012
7:04 pm
Barbara says...

Love Ted Kooser’s poetry. One of my favorites is “In the Basement of the Goodwill Store.” http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/171342

April 30, 2012
9:06 pm
Lauren Moseley says...

Emily, I hear you! As Gary said, picking favorites is an impossible task, which is why I’m so appreciative of the excellent comments we’ve received to contribute to this list. In addition to Whitman and the other poets mentioned, where’s Shakespeare, where’s Bishop, where’s Lowell, where’s Jarrell . . . there’s so much stellar poetry available. I wish this list could contain multitudes.:)

April 30, 2012
9:20 pm
hodgepodzaline says...

I love this!
I will post 3 poems by the brilliant Wislawa Szymborska!
The first, “Autotomy”

The second, “Under One Small Star”

Finally, “View With A Grain of Sand”

May 1, 2012
12:37 am
Karyn says...

Any and all Mary Oliver with some Billy Collins on the side!

May 1, 2012
1:15 am
Cheryl says...

I love THOSE WINTER SUNDAYS by Robert Hayden. So poignant.
I also love Naomi Shihab Nye, Heather McHugh, Mary Oliver….too man to name!

May 1, 2012
1:15 am
Cheryl says...

I love THOSE WINTER SUNDAYS by Robert Hayden. So poignant.
I also love Naomi Shihab Nye, Heather McHugh, Mary Oliver….too man to name!

May 1, 2012
1:19 am
Cheryl says...

I also forgot to put the link: THOSE WINTER SUNDAYS http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/175758

May 3, 2012
10:26 am
Autumn says...

Ezra Pound’s “In a Station of the Metro”

I know it’s short and odd but I had to read it and analyze it in my favorite English class my Junior year of high school, and that class is what really made me want to go into the publishing business. This poem has so much hidden meaning and it really speaks to me.

May 4, 2012
3:55 pm
Lauren Moseley says...

And the lucky winner (selected with the help of random.org) is . . . Norma Wilson! Thanks so much to everyone who participated. Please look out for our next poetry roundup (scheduled to post on May 24th), which will be another fun list of favorites with a giveaway!

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