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10 of the Most Bad-Ass Contemporary American Poets

As you may know, April is National Poetry Month, so we have poets on the brain a little more than usual. We’ve been celebrating by memorizing poems, but the occasion has also gotten us thinking about the modern perception of poets in America — a lot of people think of poets as having a sort of hippy flower-worshipper vibe that is rather inaccurate (or at least not true all the time). To broaden the field of our collective imagination a little bit, we’ve put together this list of some of the toughest, coolest, most badass contemporary American poets living and working today — though we know there are way more than ten, and everyone has their own idea of what being a badass entails, so we’re definitely open to additions. Click through to check out our picks, and let us know if we’ve missed any of your favorites in the comments!

Nick Flynn

Nick Flynn would probably make this list just for the fact that his memoir is called Another Bullshit Night in Suck City, which is one of our favorite names for anything ever — never mind that the book, which traces Flynn’s relationship with his ex-con father living on the streets of Boston, is brilliant. Flynn, who worked as a ship’s captain, as an electrician, and at a homeless center before he began racking up fellowships and writing awards, writes poems and prose with comedic brilliance and hardscrabble reality in equal measure.

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