August 25, 2017



As a student, you tend to read poetry in anthologies, and certain poems are often anthologized and so become "the canon" that is taught.  I had to buy the Norton Anthology of Poetry in a college class along with many other undergraduates.

I saw an article on the Most Anthologized Poems of the Last 25 Years. It has the usual suspects on the list. If you look at the top dozen -
  1. William Carlos Williams, “The Red Wheelbarrow”
  2. T. S. Eliot, “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”
  3. T. S. Eliot, “The Waste Land”
  4. Robert Frost, “Birches”
  5. Robert Lowell, “For the Union Dead”
  6. Robert Lowell, “Skunk Hour”
  7. Ezra Pound, “The River-Merchant’s Wife : a Letter”
  8. W. H. Auden, “Musee des Beaux Arts”
  9. Elizabeth Bishop, “One Art”
  10. Gwendolyn Brooks, “We Real Cool”
  11. Emily Dickinson, “Because I could not stop for Death –”
  12. Robert Frost, “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening”
- you'll see poems you read in a classroom, but what you don't see are many contemporary poets and poems. That is partially about publishing, copyright and paying for the reprint rights. Older poems are cheaper or perhaps even free. You will always find public domain poems and classics included in anthologies.

Not that I wouldn't suggest reading all of the top 25 poems. And poetry anthologies are a good way to discover poets that you can then read in their own collections. 

Was there a poet you discovered by reading their work in an anthology?  Add your anthology comments below.

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