Famous American Poets

"I celebrate myself, and sing myself, And what I assume you shall assume, For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you." - wrote Walt Whitman, one of the first great American poets known to the world. Dwelling in a digital age, with computer and Internet controlling every aspect of your life and leisure, how often does your mind ache to break free from the monotony of machineries and repose in verse? Poetry, the panacea for worldly tedium, has inspired generations to greatness. Over the years America, the goldmine of poetic talent, has produced literary bards like Robert Frost, Edgar Allan Poe, Pablo Neruda, and Emily Dickinson, whose poems are read and cherished to this day by connoisseurs and lay man alike. Whether you understand the iambic pentameter or not or appreciate the use of caesura, you will surely love going through the biographies, trivia and facts of these famous American poets who gave poetry its own niche.

This ranking is based on an algorithm that combines various factors, including the votes of our users and search trends on the internet.

Vote for Your Favourite American Poets

 1 Edgar Allan Poe

Edgar Allan Poe
22
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: January 19, 1809
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Boston, Massachusetts, United States
Died: October 7, 1849

American writer Edgar Allan Poe is regarded as the architect of modern short story, the inventor of the detective-fiction genre and a major contributor towards science fiction genre. The influential writer is recognised for his tales of mystery and macabre. His notable works include The Raven (poem), The Tell-Tale Heart and The Fall of the House of Usher (short stories).

 2 Sylvia Plath

Sylvia Plath
15
Famous As: Poet, Novelist
Birthdate: October 27, 1932
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Boston, Massachusetts, United States
Died: February 11, 1963

Sylvia Plath was an American short-story writer, novelist, and poet. Plath is credited with popularizing confessional poetry and won a posthumous Pulitzer Prize in Poetry. Sylvia Plath achieved popularity and critical acclaim despite suffering from clinical depression for the most part of her adult life. Her story inspired the 2003 film Sylvia in which she was portrayed by Gwyneth Paltrow.

 3 Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou
11
Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: April 4, 1928
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: St. Louis, Missouri, United States
Died: May 28, 2014
Poet, author, and civil rights activist Maya Angelou was a champion for black feminism and is best remembered for her autobiography, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sing. The recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom and over 50 honorary degrees was also a child sex abuse survivor.

 4 Emily Dickinson

Emily Dickinson
15
Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: December 10, 1830
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Amherst
Died: May 15, 1886
Victorian-era poet Emily Dickinson apparently wrote around 1800 poems, mostly revolving around themes such as death and immortality. However, she was a recluse, dressed up in white, and mostly interacted with people through correspondence. Her poems were mostly without titles and had short lines, slant rhyme, and unconventional punctuation.

 5 Robert Frost

Robert Frost
10
Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: March 26, 1874
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: San Francisco, California
Died: January 29, 1963

Robert Frost was an American poet. An influential poet, Frost was honored with four Pulitzer Prizes for Poetry, the only poet to receive four such awards. One of America's public literary figures, Robert Frost received the Congressional Gold Medal in 1960. His works influenced other poets like Robert Francis, James Wright, Edward Thomas, Richard Wilbur, and Seamus Heaney.

 6 T. S. Eliot

T. S. Eliot
5
Famous As: Poet, Essayist, Playwright
Birthdate: September 26, 1888
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: St. Louis, Missouri, United States
Died: January 4, 1965
American-born British poet T. S. Eliot is best remembered for his poems The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, The Waste Land, and Ash Wednesday, and his plays such as Murder in the Cathedral. He won the Nobel Prize for literature and became a prominent figure of Modernist poetry.  

 7 Henry David Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau
5
Famous As: Writer and Philosopher
Birthdate: July 12, 1817
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Concord, Massachusetts, United States
Died: May 6, 1862

Henry David Thoreau was an American philosopher, essayist, poet, and naturalist. He is credited with popularizing transcendentalism and simple living. His philosophy of civil disobedience, which was detailed in his essay of the same name, later influenced world-renowned personalities like Leo Tolstoy, Martin Luther King Jr., and Mahatma Gandhi.

You May Like

 8 Langston Hughes

Langston Hughes
8
Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: February 1, 1901
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Joplin, Missouri, United States
Died: May 22, 1967

Langston Hughes is best remembered as a prominent leader of the Harlem Renaissance. He was one of the first to write jazz poetry. He also wrote plays and short stories. He was a columnist for The Chicago Defender and wrote the iconic poem The Negro Speaks of Rivers.

 9 Walt Whitman

Walt Whitman
6
Famous As: Poet & humanist
Birthdate: May 31, 1819
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: West Hills, New York
Died: March 26, 1892

Walt Whitman was an American poet, journalist, and essayist. Also a humanist, Whitman played a crucial role in the shift between transcendentalism and realism. Often referred to as the father of free verse, Whitman is one of the most influential American poets of all time. Several decades after his death, Walt Whitman's poetry remains influential.

 10 Ralph Waldo Emerson

Ralph Waldo Emerson
4
Famous As: American Lecturer, Philosopher, Essayist & Poet
Birthdate: May 25, 1803
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Boston, Massachusetts, United States
Died: April 27, 1882

Ralph Waldo Emerson was an American philosopher who led the transcendentalist movement that developed in the eastern United States in the 1820s and 1830s. He is credited with popularizing individualism through his numerous lectures and essays. Emerson influenced many thinkers and writers that followed him; he mentored Henry David Thoreau, who went on to become a leading transcendentalist.

 11 Shel Silverstein

Shel Silverstein
7
Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: September 25, 1930
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois, United States
Died: May 10, 1999

Shel Silverstein was an American writer, playwright, songwriter, and cartoonist. Renowned for his children's books, songs, and cartoons, Silverstein's works have been translated into over 30 languages. The recipient of many prestigious awards, such as Grammy Awards, Shel Silverstein was posthumously inducted into the Chicago Literary Hall of Fame.

 12 Stephen King

Stephen King
5
Famous As: Author
Birthdate: September 21, 1947
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Portland, Maine

One of the most popular American authors, Stephen King has sold over 350 million copies of his works. Many of his books have been adapted into television series, miniseries, and films. One of the most decorated authors, King believes in giving back to society as he and his wife are noted philanthropists.

 13 Dr. Seuss

Dr. Seuss
4
Famous As: Author
Birthdate: March 2, 1904
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Springfield, Massachusetts, United States
Died: September 24, 1991

Dr. Seuss was an American children's author, illustrator, and political cartoonist. He is credited with writing some of the most famous children's books ever, including The Cat in the Hat. His works were translated into over 20 languages and sold more than 600 million copies by the time of his death. Many of his creations were adapted into animated cartoons.

 14 Viggo Mortensen

Viggo Mortensen
4
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: October 20, 1958
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Watertown, New York, United States

Danish-American actor, Viggo Mortensen, is best known for portraying the role of Aragorn in The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Some of his other films are A History of Violence, Eastern Promises, Captain Fantastic and Green Book. He is also an author of various books on poetry, photography and painting.

 15 Ezra Pound

Ezra Pound
7
Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: October 30, 1885
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Idaho, United States
Died: November 1, 1972
American poet Ezra Pound was a significant figure in the modernist poetry movement who developed imagism and gained fame with works such as Ripostes and The Cantos. He later promoted social credit theory. During World War II, he supported fascism, participating in radio broadcasts against the U.S. and Jews. 

 16 Robert Mitchum

Robert Mitchum
4
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: August 6, 1917
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Bridgeport, Connecticut, United States
Died: July 1, 1997
Robert Mitchum is best known for his film noirs, such as Undercurrent, and for defining the antihero in movies of the 1950s and 1960s. Fans loved him in The Story of G.I. and Joe and as U.S. Navy Captain Victor Henry in The Winds of War and its sequel.

 17 Lou Reed

Lou Reed
4
Famous As: Musician, Singer
Birthdate: March 2, 1942
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Southampton, New York, United States
Died: October 27, 2013
Lou Reed redefined the glam rock genre with his album Transformer. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee initially wrote sings for Pickwick Records and performed with the Velvet Underground. He then released 20 solo albums. His parents had made him go through electro-shock therapy to “cure” his bisexuality.

 18 William Faulkner

William Faulkner
4
Famous As: Writer, Nobel Laureate
Birthdate: September 25, 1897
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: New Albany, Mississippi, U.S
Died: July 6, 1962
Nobel Prize-winning Southern author William Faulkner is remembered for works The Sound and the Fury, A Rose for Emily, and As I Lay Dying. He immortalized Mississippi as the fictional "Yoknapatawpha County" in his works. He also won two Pulitzers, one each for A Fable and The Reivers.

 19 Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
4
Famous As: Poet & Educator
Birthdate: February 27, 1807
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Portland, Maine, U.S.
Died: March 24, 1882

 20 Jack Kerouac

Jack Kerouac
6
Famous As: Novelist, Poet
Birthdate: March 12, 1922
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Lowell, Massachusetts, United States
Died: October 21, 1969
Jack Kerouac is remembered as a prominent figure of the Beat Generation. His works, consisting of several novels and poems, with their focus on spirituality, drugs, travel, sex, and jazz, paved the way for the hippie movement. He is best known for his pathbreaking novel On the Road

 21 E. E. Cummings

E. E. Cummings
5
Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: October 14, 1894
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States
Died: September 3, 1962

 22 Allen Ginsberg

Allen Ginsberg
9
Famous As: Poet, Writer
Birthdate: June 3, 1926
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Newark, New Jersey, United States
Died: April 5, 1997
Allen Ginsberg, a Beat Generation poet, is best remembered for his 1956 poem Howl, which criticized U.S. capitalism and described homosexual acts, and was thus banned. He earned the National Book Award for The Fall of America and was a Pulitzer Prize finalist for Cosmopolitan Greetings: Poems 1986–1992.

 23 Vladimir Nabokov

Vladimir Nabokov
4
Famous As: Novelist, Poet
Birthdate: April 23, 1899
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Saint Petersburg, Russia
Died: July 2, 1977
Russian author Vladimir Nabokov, also known by his pen name, Vladimir Sirin, is best remembered for his controversial novel Lolita. His other works include the novel Pale Fire and his memoir, Speak, Memory. He was also an entomologist, specializing in lepidoptery. He also liked composing chess problems.

 24 Marty Feldman

Marty Feldman
4
Famous As: Actor, Comedian, Screenwriter, Poet
Birthdate: July 8, 1934
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: London
Died: December 2, 1982

 25 Dorothy Parker

Dorothy Parker
5
Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: August 22, 1893
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Long Branch, New Jersey, United States
Died: June 7, 1967

Poet and author Dorothy Parker rose to fame with her published works in The New Yorker. She later formed the Algonquin Round Table. She also wrote for Hollywood films such as A Star Is Born and earned two Academy Award nominations. However, her association with left-wing politics got her blacklisted.

 26 James Avery

James Avery
8
Famous As: Film actor
Birthdate: November 27, 1945
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Suffolk, Virginia, U.S.
Died: December 31, 2013

 27 Carl Sandburg

Carl Sandburg
4
Famous As: Writer & Editor
Birthdate: January 6, 1878
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Galesburg, Illinois, United States
Died: July 22, 1967

Carl Sandburg had begun working since age 11 and been employed in various odd jobs, such as a truck driver, a harvester, and a brickyard hand, before being part of the Illinois Infantry. The two-time Pulitzer-winning poet and biographer late also won a Grammy for his recording of Lincoln Portrait.

 28 Gil Scott-Heron

Gil Scott-Heron
4
Famous As: Singer, Writer, Composer, Poet, Pianist
Birthdate: April 1, 1949
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Chicago
Died: May 27, 2011

 29 L. Frank Baum

L. Frank Baum
4
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: May 15, 1856
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Chittenango, New York, United States
Died: May 6, 1919

L. Frank Baum was an author remembered for writing children's books including The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, which inspired the 1902 Broadway musical and the 1939 live-action film of the same name. His works anticipated the invention of gadgets like TV that would be invented later. In 2013, Baum was made an inductee of the Chicago Literary Hall of Fame.

 30 Jewel

Jewel
11
Famous As: Singer-Songwriter
Birthdate: May 23, 1974
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Payson, Utah, United States

 31 Edna St. Vincent Millay

Edna St. Vincent Millay
5
Famous As: Poetess and Playwright
Birthdate: February 22, 1892
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Rockland
Died: October 19, 1950

 32 Ruby Dee

Ruby Dee
6
Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: October 27, 1922
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Cleveland, Ohio, USA
Died: June 11, 2014

 33 Phillis Wheatley

Phillis Wheatley
5
Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: May 8, 1753
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: West Africa
Died: December 5, 1784

 34 Talib Kweli

Talib Kweli
4
Famous As: Poet, Musician, Songwriter, Rapper, Singer
Birthdate: October 3, 1975
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: New York City, New York, United States

 35 Michael Madsen

Michael Madsen
9
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: September 25, 1957
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois, United States

 36 Francis Scott Key

Francis Scott Key
9
Famous As: Lawyer
Birthdate: August 1, 1779
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Frederick County, Maryland, United States
Died: January 11, 1843

 37 Chirlane McCray

Chirlane McCray
4
Famous As: Writer, Social Activist
Birthdate: November 29, 1954
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Springfield, Massachusetts, United States

 38 E. B. White

E. B. White
5
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: July 11, 1899
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Mount Vernon, New York, United States
Died: October 1, 1985

 39 Sherman Alexie

Sherman Alexie
4
Famous As: Novelist
Birthdate: October 7, 1966
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Spokane

 40 Neal Cassady

Neal Cassady
4
Birthdate: February 8, 1926
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Salt Lake City, Utah
Died: February 4, 1968

 41 Banks

Banks
5
Famous As: Singer
Birthdate: June 16, 1988
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Orange County, California, US

 42 Sue Grafton

Sue Grafton
4
Famous As: American author
Birthdate: April 24, 1940
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Louisville, Kentucky, United States

 43 Noname

Noname
5
Famous As: Rapper
Birthdate: September 18, 1991
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois, United States

 44 Carmine Giovinazzo

Carmine Giovinazzo
4
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: August 24, 1973
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Richmond [now Staten Island], New York City, New York, USA

 45 Anne Sexton

Anne Sexton
4
Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: November 9, 1928
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Newton, Massachusetts, United States
Died: October 4, 1974

 46 Wendell Berry

Wendell Berry
4
Birthdate: August 5, 1934
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Henry County

 47 William Carlos Williams

William Carlos Williams
4
Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: September 17, 1883
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Rutherford, New Jersey, United States
Died: March 4, 1963

 48 Bernie Casey

Bernie Casey
4
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: June 8, 1939
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Wyco, West Virginia, USA
Died: September 19, 2017

 49 Angela Marie DiFranco

Angela Marie DiFranco
4
Famous As: Singer
Birthdate: September 23, 1970
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Buffalo, New York, United States

 50 Stephen Gyllenhaal

Stephen Gyllenhaal
4
Famous As: Director
Birthdate: October 4, 1949
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Cleveland, Ohio, USA