Contemporary Poets You Didn't Learn About in High School

Everyone remembers covering poetry in English classes in high school, and whether you liked it or not, you probably remember reading tons and tons of poetry by greats like William Shakespeare, Robert Frost, Walt Whitman, T.S. Eliot, Pablo Neruda and all those classic poets that everyone reads. While these poets are well-remembered for a reason, sometimes reading the same stuff over and over again can get pretty dull to some. However, there are many newer poets that you may have never even heard of that are still highly acclaimed and really fun to read, and, as a bonus, most contemporary poets perform and continue to release new work regularly!

Amanda Lovelace

As a newer writer, with her first collection, “The Princess Saves Herself in This One”, being published in 2016, Amanda Lovelace and her work are very easily accessible. With a major presence on social media and two published collections to date (with a new one being published this September), it is very easy to find poetry from this up-and-coming writer. She also writes in very transparent language, making it easy to understand the point she is trying to get across in any and all of her works. Lovelace’s poems tell the story of the modern-day woman and her everyday struggles. She has been acclaimed for bringing a new perspective on feminist issues to the forefront.

Morgan Parker

Morgan Parker is a brilliant new poet with two collections published as of right now, 2015’s “Other People’s Comfort Keeps Me Up at Night” and 2017’s “There Are More Beautiful Things Than Beyoncé”. Parker is known for writing about feminism and race in relation to the world today. Her work is often heralded as honest and contemplative, both in terms of society and her own personal life.

Neil Hilborn

Another contemporary writer, Neil Hilborn gained a good deal of fame after a video of him performing a poem entitled “OCD”, went viral. Hilborn is well-known for writing about mental health, particularly his experiences with OCD and bipolar disorder. While his poetry is a way for him to handle his mental illness, he has also inspired many and spurred an honest, open conversation about mental illness today. Hilborn currently has two published works, “Our Numbered Days” and 2018’s “The Future”, and he continues to write and perform along with having a very active social media presence.

Danez Smith

Danez Smith is a highly acclaimed poet with both spoken word and written collections available, including “Don’t Call Us Dead” (2017), “Black Movie” (2015) and “[Insert] Boy” (2014). As a black and queer writer, Smith’s work often covers topics like race and sexuality in America. Their recent success and rise in popularity has landed them many awards and honors and got their works published and performed seemingly everywhere, making it easy for anyone to find some of their poetry.


While this is no means a definitive list of contemporary poets, not even close, these poets act as a great starting point to diving into a new world of poetry that many people may not have even known existed. Alex Dimitrov, Fatima Asghar, Tracy K. Smith, Ocean Vuong, Pierre Alex Jeanty, Chen Chen, Terrance Hayes and Sarah Kay are just a few of the scores of other poets that continue to do amazing work. Poetry can be beautiful and heartbreaking and terrifying and so many other things all at once, and the emotion that it both conveys and invokes is what makes it so accessible to anyone and everyone.