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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UCF chapter.

It is officially April, and you know what that means: National Poetry Month has finally begun. Feel free to challenge yourself to write a poem each day using prompts from Escapril, NaPoWriMo, or your own limitless imagination. Other than writing poems of your own, you can also celebrate National Poetry Month by reading the work of some great poets. There are countless other poets deserving of recognition, but for time’s sake, here are eight of my personal favorite poets who will or have already gone down in history, and how you can support their art.

Joy Harjo

Joy Harjo was the first Native American woman to become the US National Poet Laureate. She believes that writing poetry carries immense responsibility, and a majority of her poems incorporate nature, indigenous myths, and themes of social justice. You can easily read her beautiful work at the Poetry Foundation or purchase one or all of her ten books of poetry.

José Olivarez

One of the most talented contemporary poets of our time, José Olivarez typically writes about his Mexican American identity, home, and family. His heartwarming, funny, and often profound poetry is guaranteed to make you tear up or smile. You can find videos of him reading his poetry on YouTube, can purchase his amazing poetry collections here, and can follow him on Instagram at _joseolivarez.

Amanda Gorman

Many know her as the young woman who performed “The Hill We Climb” at President Biden’s inauguration, but Amanda Gorman has actually been around for much longer. As the first National Youth Poet Laureate and a Harvard graduate, she has already published two poetry collections and has performed nearly everywhere around the country. You can watch more of her performances centered around social issues and activism on YouTube.

Rudy Francisco

So, first of all, I’m a little biased because Rudy Francisco is easily my favorite poet. His spoken word poetry has gained widespread recognition on social media, and he has even performed on the Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. His work is filled to the brim with extended metaphors and imagery, and regardless of whether or not you’re a pro at interpreting poetry, you’ll feel Francisco’s poetry. If you like that poem, you can buy his books here.

Lucille Clifton

If you haven’t yet read one of Lucille Clifton’s poems, what are you doing with your life? Clifton was Maryland’s Poet Laureate for eleven years and authored several collections of poetry. Her poems, ranging from topics on body positivity to race to perseverance, continue to inspire many today. Before dying of cancer in 2010, Clifton published fourteen poetry collections; you can find some of them here.

Phil Kaye

I am also biased here; I’ve loved Phil Kaye’s poetry since I was a sophomore in high school. He frequently tours the country performing his original slam poems, but you can also find innumerable videos of his performances on Youtube or Button Poetry. His poems typically revolve around themes of family, identity, and love. If you like what you see on YouTube, then you can also find his two poetry collections here.

Mary Oliver

What good would this list be without Mary Oliver? Oliver’s classic work is famous for focusing on the subtle but many beauties of nature, and finding joy in its existence. Her spiritual work is often credited with making poetry accessible while still retaining its complexity, and even now, years after her death, she remains an inspiration to many. Read this poem and you’ll see what I’m talking about.

Ocean vuong

Last but most definitely not least, there is the legend that is Ocean Vuong. Vuong is a queer, Vietnamese American poet whose works often focus on themes of family, trauma, war, and sexuality. The last line of this poem is guaranteed to give you straight chills. His two most popular works, Time Is A Mother and On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous, can be found here.

I hope this list gives you some jumping-off points to enjoy National Poetry Month. Cheers, and happy reading!

Raiya Shaw is an undergraduate student at the University of Central Florida pursuing majors in Sociology and English: Creative Writing. She loves performing slam poetry, solving jigsaw puzzles, and consuming large amounts of coffee.