The AfterEllen.com Huddle: Our Favorite Poets

April is National Poetry Month, and since there is never enough celebration of poetry in the world, this week’s Huddle is dedicated to our favorite poets. Poetry is so personal that it was inevitable we’d all have different picks, and yours will likely differ, too.

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So, group: Who is your fave?

Grace Chu: My friend Joanna Hoffman! She also has a book.

Dana Piccoli: When I was 15 I came across NYC-based Janice Erlbaum performing her poetry at a coffee shop in Michigan. She was on tour with Lollapalooza and doing a few independent shows. I was utterly blown away. She was a Nuyorican poet, a member of the Pussy Poets, and the first person I had ever seen perform spoken word poetry. She took what I thought was this boring, tedious art form and make it come alive. I bought her chapbook, which soon circulated through the halls of my all-girls high school. It was subversive and emotional and we all felt so much wiser and more cosmopolitan for having it in our possession.

A few years later, I struck up a friendship with Janice. One that has endured for the last 14 years. She’s a memoirist now, and has written two amazing books, A Halfway Homeless Memoir and Have You Found Her. To this day, her poetry still means a tremendous amount to me, more than any other poet I have read or encountered.

Ali Davis: My girl Dorothy Parker. If only she had lived long enough to see the world realize how freaking hot girls who wear glasses are.

Portrait Of Dorothy Parker

Erika Star: Choosing a favorite poet is a difficult decision, especially with Ani DiFranco‘s book of poetry existing, but I have to go with Dorothy Parker. Not only because I model my sarcasm and cynicism after her, but also because I can’t name a favorite quote without making a list of things she’s said. Oh, and her poetry is pretty good too.

Valerie Anne: LFO. “Summertime girls got it going on, shake and wiggle to a hip hop song. Summertime girls are the kind I like, I’ll steal your honey like I stole your bike.”

Heather Hogan: It’s all about Shel Silverstein for me.

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Bridget McManus: Shel Silverstein is my pick too. My favorite poem of his is “Too Many Kids in this Tub.”

There’s too many kids in this tub
There’s too many elbows to scrub
I just washed a behind that I’m sure wasn’t mine
There’s too many kids in this tub.

Since I live in a house of all women (two dogs, one cat and one wife) and we all sleep in one bed I made a little twist on Silverstein’s poem that I say constantly.

“Too Many Pets in This Bed”
There’s too many pets in this bed
Shelby’s asleep on Karman’s head
I just touched a vagina that I’m sure wasn’t mine-a
There’s too many pets in this bed.

Trish Bendix: While picking just one is a little excruciating, I’m going to go with Edna St. Vincent Millay. She’s one of those poets that is both romantic and morbid and optimistic but also a realist. She was also unafraid to write about the women she loved.

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Chloe: Yeats, yo. “The Second Coming” gives me goosebumps and never fails to ring true.

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Kim Hoffman: Without sounding morbid, I have to go with my girl Sylvia PlathI am, I am, I am. The Bell Jar is one of my all-time favorite books, and her entire work of poetry was somehow at my side when I was coming out. I embrace the dark side.

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But another person who was right there at that time and thereafter when I was dealing with a lot of tragedy was Mary Oliver“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”  Is one of my greatest little mantras/reminders/motivators. OK, but one last thing, I am obsessed with Billy Collins. His book of poetry, Picnic, Lightning has some amazing stuff. “This Much I Do Remember” perfectly describes the moment you find yourself in a moment with someone.

Jill Guccini: Billy Collins is pretty incredible, and of course Mary Oliver, and Naomi Shihab Nye, and Andrea Gibson, and pretty much every poet ever.

Whitman And Brown Attend Womens Conference 2010

Anna Pulley: SO MANY. Some faves:

Adrienne Rich:

“No one has imagined us. We want to live like trees,
sycamores blazing through the sulfuric air,
dappled with scars, still exuberantly budding,
our animal passion rooted in the city.”

Sandra Cisneros:

“Okay, we didn’t work, and all
memories to tell you the truth aren’t good.
But sometimes there were good times.
Love was good. I loved your crooked sleep
beside me and never dreamed afraid.

There should be stars for great wars
like ours.”

Jane Miller:

“…your story that you have to tell,
enchanting, mutable, may it fill the world
you believe: a sunny view, flowers lunging
from the sill, the quilt, the chair, all things
fill with you and empty and fill.”

Wendy Cope:

“Some people like sex more than others -
You seem to like it a lot.
There’s nothing wrong with being innocent or high minded
But I’m glad you’re not.”

Lucy Hallowell: John Milton because the world needs more epic poetry. Just kidding. As a kid I loved Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats by T.S. Eliot; particularly “Macavity: The Mystery Cat.” I’m not a cat person (allergies) but I always loved the image of a criminal mastermind cat.

Macavity poem

Elaine Atwell: I am deeply fussy about poetry and could never pick a favorite poet. But Richard Siken‘s collection Crush just rips me to shreds.

“Tell me how all this, and love too, will ruin us.
These, our bodies, possessed by light.
Tell me we’ll never get used to it.”

Who is your favorite poet?

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