Jun 03

The Great Poets Challenge

[Art: Alden Bond, YWP]
Hey YWP, you might know me on the site as Nightheart. I want to introduce you to some great poets I've discovered – from all walks of life. Learn about these poets' style, their themes, their contributions to the poetry landscape. Gain inspiration from the topics that they choose to write about, and become inspired by some of their most famous poems! Write to the Great Poets challenge if you're inspired by these poets' work. 

MARY OLIVER – Hi poets! This month's poet is Mary Oliver, who was born in Cleveland, Ohio, on September 10th, 1935, and passed away recently in 2019. She is a great example of a queer poet who kept her life mostly private, though she had a longtime partner for most of her life. Her work is based in Romantic traditions of poetry, and is praised in the poetry community for being clear and evocative, with dimensions of the self incorporated in her later work. The theme of nature still dominates though, and some of her best known poems use this theme, combined with simpler words, for a beautiful effect. 
Her bio: https://poets.org/poet/mary-oliver 
The Summer Day:https://www.loc.gov/programs/poetry-and-literature/poet-laureate/poet-la...
Watering The Stones:https://www.ez-blitz.com/inspiration/2019/10/27/watering-the-stones
Wild Geese:https://www.vanderbilt.edu/olli/class-materials/2017Summer.MindfulnessWk...

ANNA AKHMATOVA – The famous Soviet luminary Anna Akhmatova was born in Ukraine, formerly part of Russia, on June 23, 1889. She was interested in poetry for much of her youth, but her family was resistant to the idea of her becoming a poet, so she went to law school instead. After her marriage to a prominent poet and critic, she started writing again and published her first book, Evening. She is known for her sharp imagery and political commentary under the oppressive conditions of Soviet Russia. Akhmatova often faced goverment opposition to her work.
Biography: https://poets.org/poet/anna-akhmatova 
Mines: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poetrymagazine/browse?volume=70&issue=5...
Requiem: https://hopkinsreview.jhu.edu/archive/requiem/ 
[Portrait by Kuzma Petrov-Vodkin]

PABLO NERUDA – Pablo Neruda was a famous Chilean poet, diplomat and senator. He was born in Parral, Chile, and lived there most of his life. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1971. He was one of the most influential Hispanic poets of the 20th century. He was born in a working class family, and his father tried to discourage him from writing poetry, which is why he started publishing under his pen name. His birth name was Neftalí Ricardo Reyes Basoalto, but he changed his name legally to Pablo Neruda. He briefly worked as the consul to Rangoon in Burma, which is now Yangon, Myanmar. He was a prolific talent whose poetry continues to inspire people today.
Tonight I Can Write The Saddest Lines: https://allpoetry.com/Tonight-I-Can-Write-(The-Saddest-Lines) 
I Do Not Love You:https://hellopoetry.com/poem/9959/xvii-i-do-not-love-you/ 
Ode To Tomatoes: http://famouspoetsandpoems.com/poets/pablo_neruda/poems/15736
Finale: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/49219/finale-56d22b187c637 
Also see YWP's writing challenge: Objects, which was inspired by Pablo Neruda's odes to ordinary, overlooked objects. [Illustration: Ilan Stavans]

ALLEN GINSBERG – Hey poets! Happy Pride Month! In honour of Pride Month, I've chosen one of the most influential LGBT poets of the 20th century to be June's poet. The extraordinary poet Allen Ginsberg was one ofthe Beat Poets, a generation of poets and writers including the likes of Jack Kerouac who challenged the idea that poetry had to be written with a certain poetic meter, and what exactly was acceptable content for a poem. Ginsberg was very involved in politics, and participated regularly in protests against the Vietnam War. Ginsberg was openly gay during a very dangerous time, and his words still ring true with queer people all over the world today. 

A Supermarket in California-https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/47660/a-supermarket-in-california

OCEAN VUONGOcean Vuong, is a Vietnamese-American poet, essayist and novelist. While his works are more recent, he has been honored with several awards, and his book On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous is something I recommend to everyone. His style of poetry is haunting, and surprisingly relatable. He represents a surge in a new style of poetry that is more abstract than what has been traditionally done. 
Biography: https://www.oceanvuong.com/about 

KAHLIL GIBRAN – Hey poets! April is Middle Eastern Heritage Month, and we're going to be focusing on one of the most famous modern poets of Middle Eastern descent, Kahlil Gibran. While his more famous works are in English, he was a huge influence in the Arabic Romantic movement. He was born in what is now northern Lebanon, and was educated in England, Paris and Beirut. He was an amazing figure in both poetic circles and in art, as he was a painter as well.
BIO: https://www.biography.com/writer/khalil-gibran 
And when my sorrow was born: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/58723/and-when-my-sorrow-was-born 
The Good God and the Evil God: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/58712/the-good-god-and-the-evil-g...
Pomegranate: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/58706/the-pomegranate 

Once you're done discovering his writing, go to the Great Poets challenge and write something that is inspired by his writing, or a homage to the poet himself! Please indicate his name at the top of your piece. If a specific poem or story inspired you, please include it too.


SYLVIA PLATH – This Great Poets' segment focuses on the life and work of Sylvia Plath, one of the best known 20th century poets. She has a novel that is extremely well known as well, called The Bell Jar (1963), which is a wonderful read. Her work centers around her struggles with mental illness and living as a woman during a time where women still did not have many of the freedoms that we have now. 
Biography: https://www.britannica.com/biography/Sylvia-Plath 
Epitaph for Fire and Flower-https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poetrymagazine/browse?volume=89&issue=4...
On the Decline of Oracles-https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poetrymagazine/browse?contentId=28128


MAYA ANGELOU – We started this series in the month of February – Black History Month – and the poet we're honoring this month is the incredible Maya Angelou. You'll find a quick bio and some examples of her poems below. Feel free to explore more than what's listed here. And, again, once you're done discovering her writing, go to the Great Poets challenge and write something that is inspired by her writing, or a homage to the poet herself! Please indicate her name at the top of your piece, and any specific writing that inspired you.
Biography: https://poets.org/poet/maya-angelou
Caged Bird-https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/48989/caged-bird
Still I Rise-https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/46446/still-i-rise
The Mothering Blackness-https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/48991/the-mothering-blackness
California Prodigal-https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/48986/california-prodigal

Thanks, and have a good time writing! Need more info or just want to talk poetry? Message me on the site at Nightheart.