The Poets Not Read: A Compilation of 7 Poets You May Not Have Encountered

“The point is not the point, the point is poetry.”- Slammed, Colleen Hoover

We’ve all encountered poetry in some form or the other, whether it was only in the long sections of the English school textbooks that we never wanted to read or in desperately quoting “Miles to go before I sleep” (every college student’s motto ever) while cursing and simultaneously trying to finish an assignment at 6:07 in the morning. Some of us, however, are the kind to go rooting around for poetry at all hours, beginning our days with reading Dreams by Langston Hughes (who doesn’t need inspiration post waking up after a 3 hours sleep?) and ending it with Sylvia Plath’s Lady Lazarus (it’s always better to weep over a piece of art than over the crammed up state of your schedule). But it’s easy for even poetry aficionados to spend their whole lives reading poetry and yet not come across some of the lesser known, the lesser advertised poets. So we’ve compiled for you, a quick list of poets that the people we spoke to strongly recommend!


(Disclaimer: This list is not ordered in any specific manner. *laughs nervously* Not even in my wildest dreams would I wish to pit poets against each other and rank them; unless it was in a Drop the Mic battle, where….well, in all fairness, I don’t think I know of anyone who’d be able to resist).

1. Jorge Louis Borges

(recommended by Ishita Bhatia)

Borges is known well enough for his philosophical pondering and magical, yet realistic style of writing. His poetry reaches out to hit chords that have long existed in your mind, chords that you hadn’t gotten around to properly analyzing yet. If you enjoy poetry of the sort that strikes deep and quickly, you’ll definitely enjoy Borges!


A poem to start off with: Sleep

A quick excerpt: “Why is it so sad to be awake at dawn?”

2. Mary Oliver

(recommended by Ishita Bhatia)

Oliver writes uncomplicated verse filled with layers of emotion that are often linked to nature or natural phenomenon. Her poems are lovely to read during silent moments and can serve often as good reminders of our own humanity.


A poem to start off with: The Summer Day

A quick excerpt: “Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?”


3. Agha Shahid Ali

(recommended by Azhar Wani)

Deriving inspiration from his roots, Agha Shahid Ali’s poetry harks to different styles of writing and methods of expression. His poetry is always a conflux of several ideas and methods, with the one consistency remaining his focus on cultural and contextual themes across his poems. For those of you interested in a syncretic style of writing and ghazals (his poetry has often been termed ghazal-esuqe), take a look at his work.


A poem to start off with: Snow on the Desert

A quick excerpt: “Each ray of sunshine is seven minutes old.”

4. Neil Gaiman

(recommended by Ojas Sahasrabudhe) 

Ever read any Gaiman? If yes, you know that his quirky sense of humor tinges every line he pens. His books you’ve likely heard of, but did you know that Gaiman also engages in writing poetry? And his poems are just as hilarious and heart-full as his books are. So go on and see if you like them!


A poem to start off with: Instructions

A quick excerpt: “Remember your name.”

5. Warsan Shire

(recommended by Neha Nandakumar)

Warsaw Shire depicts instances of extraordinary significance, with her poems ranging everything from sex to war. The honest, raw character of her writing allows you to resonate wholly with what she writes.


A poem to start off with: Backwards

A quick excerpt: “This time there’ll be so much love.”


6. Tracy K.Smith

(recommended by Ananya Rao)

Poetry by Smith builds in you a quick sense of emotion. Her words capture her feelings and transmit them fast, without giving the reader the need to pause to analyze her words. Hard-hitting at the same time, her poetry is therefore highly effective.


A poem to start off with: My God, It’s Full of Stars

A quick excerpt: “We think of it as parallel to what we know.


There we have it, folks! A list.

The list above is only a very short, very limited representation of all the wondrous poets and writers out there! I hope, if you do make it all the way through the list and are reading this with keen interest, indifference or disguisement, that at a bottom line, it introduces you to one poem that you may not have encountered elsewhere in the humdrum of our busy lives. So go get your cup of hot chocolate/caffeine/preferred drink of choice, cuddle up in a warm corner or under the sun (if such a thing as sunshine is still out there in whichever cold, wintry place you may live in) and start reading!

And if there’s anyone you think should’ve been on the list, leave us a message in the comments: let’s diversify our taste in poetry together!


P. S. If you're looking for new poems, try

Edited by: Vedika Gupta

Photographic content curated by: Viraj Malani and Aqsa Pervez