Ten poets you’ve never heard of but you’re going to love
Tonight to wrap up the last night of National Poetry month I want to feature 10 poets you likely have never heard of but I think you are going to love. I want to first talk about my own trip to finding a love for poetry and my own poetic writings. I grew up a blue-collar kid in a working class neighborhood. No one in my family had ever been to college, so although my mother, and through her, I became an avid reader. She read fiction and mysteries, I was drawn to military histories and science fiction. No one in my family read poetry.
My first exposure to poetry came through English class, first in middle school then in my high school English class taught by the best teacher I’ve ever known, Frank Sullivan. He introduced me to so much culture, I can’t even express what I owe him, happily I was able to tell him that before he died. His class brought me to an absolute love of theater and in particular Shakespeare. We read a lot of poetry in his class, one that I loved was The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner. I liked Shakespeare’s sonnets, I dug some of William Carlos Williams’ work, but in general I found most of the poetry we read uninspiring. I found most of the “famous” poets we read wrote very structured poetry, high level poems with lots of heavy vocabulary and flowery language.
So, a few years after high school when I started writing myself, mostly to help burn off the negative energy that fueled my depressions, I didn’t think what I wrote was poetry. I didn’t have a label, it was just what I did. Then I encountered the books of Charles Bukowski and I found them fascinating and read several before I realized that he also wrote poetry. Reading that first book of poetry by Charles Bukowski was one of the most significant things I’ve ever done. His poetry spoke to me so much, it made me feel and so much more than that, it reminded me of my own writing. Now let me be clear, I do not put my work on the level of Bukowski’s. But it was raw, straight-forward, unstructured, used utterly plain language. There were poems about being drunk, being an asshole, about how hard his life was and for the first time, I’d read poems that looked like what I wrote. I would come to find that there was a whole lot of modern poetry that did the same thing and as such came to realize I love this type of poetry.
The poets that I’m featuring in this post tonight all have the same thing in common, they are not conventional, they come straight at things and most importantly, they make me feel, I talk more about that below. Within the discussion I link to the posts I did with a taste of each of their work. If you like them, consider going out and buying some of their work. Poetry doesn’t sell, almost no one makes a living in this world as a poet. I can tell you this from comparing how my book about hiking, Appalachian Trail Happiness, vastly out sells my poetry book, Otherness. So supporting them by buying some of their work is not just putting a few coins in their pocket, it is supporting them as a person, as a poet your writing is taking a piece of your very soul and making it public. When you buy a poet’s work, you’re positively reflecting on their very soul, poetry is an utterly personal endeavor, so please consider supporting their work.
The first one, pictured above is Warsan Shire, Beyonce apparently used some of her words so you may have heard her name. I first discovered her work a few years ago and instantly fell in love with it. It’s raw, hard and touches you in places in ways most poets don’t, as I’ve mentioned here before that the goal of my own writing, stealing a line from jazz musician Art Pepper, is not that you like it, but that it makes you feel. Warsan Shire my friends will make you feel.
Doug Draime is one of several I will say this about, I found his work for the first time in the Outlaw Bible of American Poetry. So when I first started doing Happiness is Poetry posts I selected Doug Draime to do a post about. His work reminded me of Bukowski, it was raw, straight on and made an impact. So I did the post about Doug Draime and then, to my great suprise got an email from him. I had never considered reaching out to him but realized that was an option for the poets I was writing about. While corresponding with him, he’s a great guy, I also asked him to recommend to me some younger, lesser known poets he was aware of and his first recommendation was Hosho McCreesh.
Hosho McCreesh, recommended by Doug Draime absolutely fit the mold of an outlaw poet. I don’t want to be utterly repetitive but raw, with impact, I really dig his work.
Adrian Manning, so down the tree of reaching out to someone, post their stuff and then get a recommendation. Hosho McCreesh recommended Adrian Manning and his work is fantastic.
Wolfgang Carstens recommended by Adrian Manning is a seriously interesting guy, his words are angular, sharp, they seem revel in the terror of honesty, good stuff. He’s also interesting in the different formats he uses to show his work including illustrated poems.
Suzanne Burns I found on the internet and then reached out to her, she was incredibly gracious and after publishing my piece about her she sent me a couple signed copies of her books. Super nice person and a fantastic poet.
Ashe Vernon – I was sitting in a friends house and noticed a book of poetry. Knowing we have similar tastes I picked it up and scanned through a few poems. I will admit, not everything I read moved me, but when it happened, whoa, it happened hard. For me, Ashe Vernon, in the baseball sense, is a home run hitter. Like all home rum hitters, she doesn’t hit one out of the park every time she swings, but when she does, you need to get out the tape measures because it’s a monster and there’s nothing more beautiful than a monster home run.
Trista Mateer I found on the recommendation of Ashe Vernon. Her work is very raw and wonderful, cut open your chest let your heart spill out on the table kind of wonderful.
Alan Kaufman is one of the editors of the Outlaw Bible of American Poetry and so I dove into work as a result of looking for a poet to feature one night, good stuff. He really doesn’t really conform to what you expect, and that’s a very good thing.
I first encountered D.A. Levy in the American Bible of Outlaw Poetry a book I consider to be the best collection of American poetry. Levy was from Cleveland a Buddhist Jew, who wanted to read everything and write everything. He was someone who always seemed to be searching for something and I think that’s one of the reasons I identify and enjoy his work.
A bonus poet, Peter McWilliams, I know I said 10 but it’s kind of hard of to do a list like this and leave Peter McWilliams off of this list. McWilliams holds a special place in my heart, you see I was introduced to McWilliams by someone who I consider to the be the love of my life and also the first person I truly ever trusted to read my poetry. McWilliams fascinates me, check out his biography, but as a writer what has always amazed me was how he could write a poem in so few words that would hit me as hard, or harder than much longer pieces. I leave an example of this as the end of this piece, I hope you like it, and as always, have a happy day my friends. ~ Rev Kane