As the success of Instapoetry proves, doing things with words never goes out of style. If you’re into poetry, you’re hopefully aware of these poets, but regardless of whether or not Keats floats your boat, here are 10 modern poets who are smart, relevant and cool af. You should definitely check them out.
1. Sophie Collins
Collins’ recently released debut, Who Is Mary Sue? is already on its way to being a modern feminist classic, tackling stigma against female writers with deceptive ease. Her style combines keen insight with surreal, beautiful images you’ll be happy to get lost in. Check her out on Twitter at @hatefuldaughter.
2. Emily Berry
Berry’s most recent collection, Stranger, Baby, a touching elegy to her mother, is everything that modern poetry should be — clever, sincere and deeply moving. Despite the painful subject, Emily Berry makes for an uplifting, joyful read. Her Instagram, @no1_emily, is also great.
3. Hera Lindsay Bird
Mistress of the art of clickbait poetry, Hera Lindsay Bird is an incredibly talented writer. Famous for the viral sensation ‘Keats is Dead so Fuck Me from Behind’, her quirky, playful work is intelligent, but not pretentious. She can be found dispensing sass on Twitter at @HeraLindsayBird.
4. Jack Underwood
Underwood’s idea of poetry — that each poem should be ‘a complete stranger walking around a supermarket, tapping people on the shoulder, interrupting their day’ illuminates whatever subject on which he chooses to cast his wry, compassionate gaze. His writing style is deceptively simple, but never straightforward. Check him out at @underwood_jack
5. Warsan Shire
You may have already heard of London Laureate Warsan Shire — her work was featured in Beyonce’s Lemonade — but if not, it’s definitely time to check her out. A Somali-British poet, Shire writes about war, loss, cultural displacement and femininity with a tender, musical voice. She shares poetry info and thoughts at @warsan_shire.
6. Pascale Petit
Petit writes with astonishing intensity, bridging the gap between nature, memoir and myth. Her moving, vivid confessional poems should top any poetry fan’s to-read list. Plus, her Instagram @pascalepetitpoet is full of photographs of the same wildlife that influences her poetry. It is lush.
7. Andrew McMillan
McMillan is the first poet ever to win the Guardian First Book Award for his debut, Physical. His poetry is like a series of photographs, capturing love and drug use, songbirds, queerness and urban landscapes. He’s also an exceptional performer. Find him at @andrewpoetry on Instagram. If you haven’t yet, you should be following these modern poets on all social media.
8. Melissa Lee Houghton
Melissa Lee Houghton is a Next Generation poet, and it’s hard to argue that her powerful work on mental illness, queerness and alienation doesn’t merit that honour. She’s most famous for her astonishing confessional poem, ‘i am very precious’. If you’re into Tracey Emin, definitely give this a read.
9. Claudia Rankine
If you’re not a fan of traditional verse poetry, definitely read Rankine. Her works Don’t Let Me Be Lonely and Citizen combine prose, poetry, memoir and photography to paint a wonderful and devastating picture of life as a woman of colour in contemporary America. Her work is better held in the hand than read online – find her at any good bookshop!
10. Matthew Dickman
Dickman tackles grief and joy side by side in vibrant free verse. His collection Brother, co-written with living brother and fellow poet Michael Dickman, is a tender elegy. His first collection, All-American Poem, is a series of personal reflections about growing up in Portland and the US in general. He writes regularly for the New York Times, so you can find him there. He also inhabits @dickmanmatthew on Instagram.