by Stephen May
If you are an aspiring poet yourself, then you might think that this is obvious advice. Apparently it isn’t. When most people think about poetry, they think about what they read at school, primary school usually. Despite the efforts of writers like the poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy, the general population have a narrow view of what makes a good poem.
At least those beginning the craft of poetry know that they should read modern poets. Prose writers are often more dismissive. But poets often spend time thinking hard about things the rest of us take for granted. Working at their best, a good modern poet will make the familiar strange again. Make us see the ordinary and the everyday in a new light. Poets remake the world around them daily; with a few arresting images a poet can reshape our view of the world. And they can, if they’re any good, provide us with a guide on how to live.
If you’re feeling flat as a prose writer, or as a dramatist, or your film script is somehow lifeless – read a modern poet.
A personal collection of good modern poets: Fleur Adcock, Simon Armitage, Ros Barber, Anne Caldwell, Maura Dooley, Carol Ann Duffy, Bernardine Evaristo, Paul Farley, Louise Gluck, Seamus Heaney, Selima Hill, Tobias Hill, Matthew Hollis, Grace Ingoldby, Kathleen Jamie, Anthony Joseph, Thomas Lynch, John Lyons, Sinead Morrissey, Sharon Olds, Leanne O’Sullivan, Dan Paterson, Clare Pollard, Jacob Polley, Sheenagh Pugh, Robin Robertson, Neil Rollinson, Ann Sansom, Peter Sansom, Penelope Shuttle, Matthew Sweeney, Derek Walcott, Benjamin Zephaniah
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