In the history of the country’s formation and development, the US has contributed to the poetry and art of the world with outstanding works such as: Song of Myself, The Idea of Order at Key West, Because I could not stop for death, Directive, Middle Passage… These poems have made the name of the greatest male poets in America.
Not only being the first pioneering generation poets, but American male poets also have helped to reform American poetry and taken it to a new level. Many poets have become literary topics which are debated on forums. Till this day, their poetic and literary works have always been influential not only in the United States but around the world.
Here are the greatest American male poets. The list is subjective and of course, the use of the word “greatest” does not fully indicate how great influence and contribution the poets have. These are the most famous male poets in America who are voted, loved by readers, and by their contributions to American literature as well as the world’s.
Edgar Allan Poe, (born January 19, 1809, Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.—died October 7, 1849, Baltimore, Maryland), was an American writer, poet, editor, and literary critic. Poe is best known for his poetry and short stories, particularly his tales of mystery and the macabre.
2. Robert Frost
Robert Frost, in full Robert Lee Frost, (born March 26, 1874, San Francisco, California, U.S.—died January 29, 1963, Boston, Massachusetts), was an American poet. His work was initially published in England before it was published in the United States.
Henry David Thoreau, (born July 12, 1817, Concord, Massachusetts, U.S.—died May 6, 1862, Concord), was an American naturalist, essayist, poet, and philosopher. A leading transcendentalist, he is best known for his book Walden, a reflection upon simple living in natural surroundings, and his essay “Civil Disobedience” (originally published as “Resistance to Civil Government”), an argument for disobedience to an unjust state.
4. T. S. Eliot
T.S. Eliot, in full Thomas Stearns Eliot, (born September 26, 1888, St. Louis, Missouri, U.S.—died January 4, 1965, London, England) was a poet, essayist, publisher, playwright, literary critic and editor. Considered one of the 20th century’s major poets, he is a central figure in English-language Modernist poetry.
Langston Hughes, in full James Mercer Langston Hughes, (born February 1, 1902?, Joplin, Missouri, U.S.—died May 22, 1967, New York, New York), was an American poet, social activist, novelist, playwright, and columnist from Joplin, Missouri.
6. Walt Whitman
Walt Whitman, in full Walter Whitman, (born May 31, 1819, West Hills, Long Island, New York, U.S.—died March 26, 1892, Camden, New Jersey), was an American poet, essayist, and journalist. A humanist, he was a part of the transition between transcendentalism and realism, incorporating both views in his works.
Ralph Waldo Emerson, (born May 25, 1803, Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.—died April 27, 1882, Concord, Massachusetts), who went by his middle name Waldo, was an American essayist, lecturer, philosopher, abolitionist and poet who led the transcendentalist movement of the mid-19th century.
Shel Silverstein, in full Sheldon Allan Silverstein, (born September 25, 1930, Chicago, Illinois, U.S.—died May 10, 1999, Key West, Florida), was an American writer, poet, cartoonist, songwriter and playwright.
Charles Bukowski, in full Henry Charles Bukowski, Jr., (born August 16, 1920, Andernach, Germany—died March 9, 1994, San Pedro, California, U.S.), was a German–American poet, novelist, and short story writer.
10. Ezra Pound
Ezra Pound, in full Ezra Loomis Pound, (born October 30, 1885, Hailey, Idaho, U.S.—died November 1, 1972, Venice, Italy), was an expatriate American poet and critic, a major figure in the early modernist poetry movement, and a fascist collaborator in Italy during World War II.
11. Jack Kerouac
Jack Kerouac, original name Jean-Louis Lebris de Kerouac, (born March 12, 1922, Lowell, Massachusetts, U.S.—died October 21, 1969, St. Petersburg, Florida), known as Jack Kerouac, was an American novelist of French Canadian ancestry, who, alongside William S. Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg, was a pioneer of the Beat Generation.
12. E. E. Cummings
E.E. Cummings, in full Edward Estlin Cummings, (born October 14, 1894, Cambridge, Massachusetts, U.S.—died September 3, 1962, North Conway, New Hampshire), often styled as e e cummings, as he is attributed in many of his published works, was an American poet, painter, essayist, author, and playwright.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, (born February 27, 1807, Portland, Massachusetts [now in Maine], U.S.—died March 24, 1882, Cambridge, Massachusetts), was an American poet and educator whose works include “Paul Revere’s Ride”, The Song of Hiawatha, and Evangeline.
14. Allen Ginsberg
Allen Ginsberg, (born June 3, 1926, Newark, New Jersey, U.S.—died April 5, 1997, New York, New York), was an American poet and writer. As a student at Columbia University in the 1940s, he began friendships with William S. Burroughs and Jack Kerouac, forming the core of the Beat Generation.
15. Carl Sandburg
Carl August Sandburg (January 6, 1878 – July 22, 1967) was an American poet, biographer, journalist, and editor. He won three Pulitzer Prizes: two for his poetry and one for his biography of Abraham Lincoln.
16. Sherman Alexie
Sherman Alexie, in full Sherman Joseph Alexie, Jr., (born October 7, 1966, Wellpinit, Spokane Indian Reservation, near Spokane, Washington, U.S.), is a Spokane-Coeur d’Alene-Native American novelist, short story writer, poet, and filmmaker.
17. Aldous Huxley
Aldous Leonard Huxley (26 July 1894 – 22 November 1963) was an English writer and philosopher. He wrote nearly 50 books—both novels and non-fiction works—as well as wide-ranging essays, narratives, and poems.
William Carlos Williams, (born September 17, 1883, Rutherford, New Jersey, U.S.—died March 4, 1963, Rutherford), was an American poet, writer, and physician closely associated with modernism and imagism.
19. John Reed
John “Jack” Silas Reed (October 22, 1887 – October 17, 1920) was an American journalist, poet, and Communist activist. Reed first gained prominence as a war correspondent during the first World War, and later became best known for his coverage of the October Revolution in Petrograd, Russia, which he wrote about in his 1919 book Ten Days That Shook the World.
20. John Updike
John Updike, in full John Hoyer Updike, (born March 18, 1932, Reading, Pennsylvania, U.S.—died January 27, 2009, Danvers, Massachusetts) was an American novelist, poet, short-story writer, art critic, and literary critic.
21. Stephen Crane
Stephen Crane, (born Nov. 1, 1871, Newark, N.J., U.S.—died June 5, 1900, Badenweiler, Baden, Ger.) was an American poet, novelist, and short story writer. Prolific throughout his short life, he wrote notable works in the Realist tradition as well as early examples of American Naturalism and Impressionism.
22. Jim Harrison
Jim Harrison, byname of James Thomas Harrison, (born December 11, 1937, Grayling, Michigan, U.S.—died March 26, 2016, Patagonia, Arizona), was an American poet, novelist, and essayist. He was a prolific and versatile writer publishing over three dozen books in several genres including poetry, fiction, nonfiction, children’s literature, and memoir.
23. Wallace Stevens
Wallace Stevens, (born Oct. 2, 1879, Reading, Pa., U.S.—died Aug. 2, 1955, Hartford, Conn.), was an American modernist poet. He was born in Reading, Pennsylvania, educated at Harvard and then New York Law School, and spent most of his life working as an executive for an insurance company in Hartford, Connecticut.
24. Ogden Nash
Ogden Nash, in full Frederic Ogden Nash, (born Aug. 19, 1902, Rye, N.Y., U.S.—died May 19, 1971, Baltimore, Md.), was an American poet well known for his light verse, of which he wrote over 500 pieces.
25. Horatio Alger Jr
Horatio Alger, also called Horatio Alger, Jr., (born Jan. 13, 1832, Chelsea, Mass., U.S.—died July 18, 1899, Natick, Mass.), was an American writer of young adult novels about impoverished boys and their rise from humble backgrounds to lives of middle-class security and comfort through good works.
Paul Laurence Dunbar, (born June 27, 1872, Dayton, Ohio, U.S.—died Feb. 9, 1906, Dayton), was an American poet, novelist, and short story writer of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
27. Claude McKay
Claude McKay, (born September 15, 1889, Nairne Castle, Jamaica, British West Indies—died May 22, 1948, Chicago, Illinois, U.S.), was a Jamaican-American writer and poet, and a central figure in the Harlem Renaissance.
28. Theodore Roethke
Theodore Huebner Roethke (/ˈrɛtki/ RET-kee; May 25, 1908 – August 1, 1963), American poet whose verse is characterized by introspection, intense lyricism, and an abiding interest in the natural world.
29. Robert Lowell
Robert Lowell, Jr., in full Robert Traill Spence Lowell, Jr., (born March 1, 1917, Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.—died September 12, 1977, New York, New York), was an American poet. He was born into a Boston Brahmin family that could trace its origins back to the Mayflower.
Richard Brautigan, in full Richard Gary Brautigan, (born Jan. 30, 1935, Tacoma, Wash., U.S.—found dead Oct. 25, 1984, Bolinas, Calif.), was an American novelist, poet, and short story writer. A prolific writer, he wrote throughout his life and published ten novels, two collections of short stories, and four books of poetry.
Lawrence Ferlinghetti, in full Lawrence Monsanto Ferlinghetti, (born March 24, 1919, Yonkers, New York, U.S.—died February 22, 2021, San Francisco, California), was an American poet, painter, social activist, and co-founder of City Lights Booksellers & Publishers.
32. Frank O’Hara
Francis Russell “Frank” O’Hara (March 27, 1926 – July 25, 1966) was an American writer, poet, and art critic. A curator at the Museum of Modern Art, O’Hara became prominent in New York City’s art world.
33. James Dickey
James Dickey, in full James Lafayette Dickey, (born February 2, 1923, Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.—died January 19, 1997, Columbia, South Carolina), was an American poet and novelist. He was appointed the eighteenth United States Poet Laureate in 1966. He also received the Order of the South award.
William Cullen Bryant, (born Nov. 3, 1794, Cummington, Mass., U.S.—died June 12, 1878, New York City), was an American romantic poet, journalist, and long-time editor of the New York Evening Post.
James Russell Lowell, (born Feb. 22, 1819, Cambridge, Mass., U.S.—died Aug. 12, 1891, Cambridge), was an American Romantic poet, critic, editor, and diplomat. He is associated with the fireside poets, a group of New England writers who were among the first American poets that rivaled the popularity of British poets.
John Greenleaf Whittier, (born December 17, 1807, near Haverhill, Massachusetts, U.S.—died September 7, 1892, Hampton Falls, New Hampshire), was an American Quaker poet and advocate of the abolition of slavery in the United States.
37. Hart Crane
Hart Crane, in full Harold Hart Crane, (born July 21, 1899, Garrettsville, Ohio, U.S.—died April 27, 1932, at sea, Caribbean Sea), was an American poet. Provoked and inspired by T. S. Eliot, Crane wrote modernist poetry that was difficult, highly stylized, and ambitious in its scope.
38. Billy Collins
Billy Collins, in full William James Collins, (born March 22, 1941, New York, New York, U.S.), is an American poet, appointed as Poet Laureate of the United States from 2001 to 2003. He is a Distinguished Professor at Lehman College of the City University of New York (retired, 2016).
39. Bret Harte
Bret Harte (HART; born Francis Bret Harte; August 25, 1836 – May 5, 1902) was an American short story writer and poet, best remembered for short fiction featuring miners, gamblers, and other romantic figures of the California Gold Rush.
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