5 Poets No One’s Heard of but Should

It’s one of my favorite questions to ask during poet interviews, something along the lines of “who is your favorite poet nobody knows but should?” And the reason is simple: I love learning about new-to-me poets no one’s heard of but should know, whether they’re contemporary or long lost voices of the past.

So I’ve gone back through a few poet interviews to find a nice list of new poets to discover.

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5 Poets No One’s Heard of But Should

  1. Catie Rosemurgy

    Catie Rosemurgy

    Catie Rosemurgy. From Amorak Huey: “I don’t know which poets other people know and which ones they don’t. I’ll say Catie Rosemurgy, who is certainly not unknown, but it has been six years since her second collection, The Stranger Manual, came out. I adore that book and return to it often. It teaches me something about voice and persona and narrative and music every time I read it.”

  2. Seth Pennington. From Bryan Borland: “My husband, Seth Pennington. Just as I’m working on this interview, he sent me a file of his recent work, and I stepped away to read it. He sees the world and writes it in a way that makes me grateful to be alive and hungry to be more alive. After I read his poetry, everything else is just noise for a moment, and when that falls away, all the colors are just… more beautiful.”
  3. Phillip B. Williams

    Phillip B. Williams

    Phillip B. Williams. From Christina Stoddard: “This is a little tough, since what constitutes well-known can be pretty subjective. But hands down one of my favorite contemporary poets is Phillip B. Williams. I first met Phillip a few years ago at a summer writers’ conference. We were in a workshop together and I have been a huge superfan of his writing ever since. Phillip’s poems astound me, especially how good their endings are. He has a real gift for that. His first full length collection, Thief in the Interior, comes out in January 2016 from Alice James Books. I’ve pre-ordered it and I’m dying to read it.”

  4. Sasha Banks. From Fatima Hirsi: “I’m lucky enough to live near Natty Roots & Rhyme, a local open mic hosted at a Jamaican restaurant. I haven’t seen much of the country, but I find it extremely hard to believe another place exists with as much talent and life hidden behind its walls. Natty Roots is where I became familiar with the poetry of Sasha Banks. Her work speaks of history and all the ways it manifests in the present. Her persona pieces are heavy with the influence of Patricia Smith. Sasha goes deep into language the way an old tree buries its roots in the ground, rises up, and disrupts the person walking who has no choice but to fall. She leaves us all with open mouths, uncomfortable and in awe.”
  5. Brock Guthrie

    Brock Guthrie

    Brock Guthrie. From Megan Volpert: “Brock Guthrie, no relation to Woody. We went to grad school together at LSU. His debut collection, Contemplative Man, is out now from Sibling Rivalry Press. When we would workshop together, I thought most of his comments were kind of dopey but all of his poems made me totally jealous. Envy is actually not an emotion I feel very often toward other writers, but wow, I just wanted to steal everything Brock ever wrote. Brock is still not good at promoting himself, or finding a publisher. I’ve been helping him out on those ugly business fronts, but as a writer, he nails it every time and I’m not going to attempt to encapsulate it for you. Just buy the book. Brock is the type of guy who will go unnoticed for 40 more years, then up and win a Pulitzer on the merit of the work alone. Get in on it while he’s still nobody famous, and later on you can join me in the I-told-you-so fest.”

If you have a favorite lesser-known poet, please share in the comments below.

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roberttwitterimageRobert Lee Brewer is Senior Content Editor of the Writer’s Digest Writing Community, which means he maintains this blog, edits a couple Market Books (Poet’s Market and Writer’s Market), writes a poetry column for Writer’s Digest magazine, leads online education, speaks around the country on publishing and poetry, and a lot of other fun writing-related stuff.

He loves learning new (to him) poets and being inspired by new ways of seeing the world. He is also the author of Solving the World’s Problems.

Follow him on Twitter @RobertLeeBrewer.

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3 thoughts on “5 Poets No One’s Heard of but Should

  1. PoetOfNight

    “The heart breaks to get bigger.” No one quite like Lucien Zell. A one-handed poet from California, based in Prague for 18 years. Met him once when he performed in Jerusalem, and he plays language as Hendrix plays guitar.

  2. Bruce Niedt

    The first to cone to mind is my friend BJ Ward, who is not well-known outside his native NJ. His poetry is narrative and accessible with a ton of humor and heart, and he’s also one of the best readers I know. He’s a Pushcart Prize winner (for his excellent poem “Roy Orbison’s Last Three Notes”) and he does a lot of work with young people in schools across the state. His latest collection, Jackleg Opera, is a great retrospective of his work and well worth getting.

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