23 People Who Will Make You Care About Poetry in 2013

It isn’t far-fetched to say that Patricia Lockwood’s poem “Rape Joke,” which was published at The Awl this week, was the best thing most people read on the Internet, and quite possibly the brightest moment for poetry, this entire year. Very rarely in this day and age do you see people discussing and sharing a poem the way the Internet has with “Rape Joke,” and the sheer number of times this harrowing work has been shared (23,710 times as of this writing, on Facebook alone) lays to waste the ignorant claim that poetry is dead. While Lockwood, who is the author of the poetry collection Balloon Pop Outlaw Black, might be the most talked about poet right now, she certainly isn’t the only person keeping poetry relevant in 2013. Here are some more names to know.


Paul Legault 

Author of the McSweeney’s-published The Emily Dickinson Reader, as well as two other books of poetry.

Read: “Farm 2


EJ Koh

Read the poet and author’s poem, “Ingredients for Memories that Can Be Used as Explosives


Steve Roggenbuck

Between being called a “prophet” by The New York Times and having his own entry on Know Your Meme, you wouldn’t think Roggenbuck would have time to write poetry, yet there he is, releasing collections that you should check out like 2012’s Crunk Juice.


Michael Robbins

It’s too soon to tell, but we’re guessing that we will probably end up calling this poet and critic’s 2012 collection, Alien vs. Predator, some of the best poetry of decade. And since he seems to publish a new poem every day, we’re guessing there might be one or two more collections of his on that list.

Read: “The Second Sex


Leigh Stein

Stein, who has published a novel along with her great collection of poetry, Dispatch From the Future, is smart, funny, and accessible to the point where people will go to her readings and request she do poems like “June 14, 1848,” which is the greatest Oregon Trail-based poem that will ever be written. 


Ariana Reines

“On both the page and at the podium, the art of Ariana Reines is, in a way, charisma. It’s perfection, but not flawlessness — rather grace and shamelessness.” — Richard Hell.

Read: “Rainer Werner Fassbinder


Leah Umansky

One of the hardest-working poets in New York City, the author of the collection Domestic Uncertainties also curates and hosts the Couplet reading series.

Read three poems by Leah Umansky


JD Scott

Scott’s newest collection, Funerals & Thrones, will be out by the end of the summer on Birds of Lace.

Read: “Goth Jams 2012” 


Ben Fama

Poet, publisher, event organizer, and writer of a really good piece on Brian Eno


Melissa Broder

Melissa Broder is not only great poet; she may also be the only person you truly need to follow on Twitter.

Read four poems by Melissa Broder at BOMB


Dorothea Lasky

Read: “Ars Poetica” and “Poetry Is Not a Project,” 


Tommy Pico

Tommy Pico is the founder of Birdsong, a DIY micropress and writing/arts collective located in Brooklyn that recently celebrated its fifth birthday.

Read: “Life’s a Beach” 


Mira Gonzalez

Read two poems by Mira Gonzalez at Muumuu House


Alex Dimitrov

Poet and founder of Wilde Boys, a queer poetry salon in New York City.

Read three poems by Alex Dimitrov 


Gina Abelkop

Abelkop runs the feminist press Birds of Lace.

Read: “I Eat Cannibals” 


Brian Spears

This Des Moines-based poet is responsible for editing the excellent poetry section at The Rumpus.

Read: “The Hazards in Child-Naming” 


Paige Ackerson-Kiely

Read three poems by Paige Ackerson-Kiely, whose collection might be the best-titled book of the year: My Love Is a Dead Arctic Explorer.


Dustin Luke Nelson

Read: “I Am A Natural Wonder” 

henriksen photo

Matthew Henriksen

We highly suggest seeking out Henriksen’s collection, Ordinary Sun, as well as anything he’s published on Cannibal Books.  


Thomas Sayers Ellis

A poet whose Skin, Inc.: Identity Repair Poems “boldly seeks to expose the myth of a post-racial America” is a poet that we can get behind.

Read: “Sticks


Amy Lawless

How many poets get Interview magazine’s attention? Not like that’s any signifier as to how talented Lawless is, but her collection, My Dead, is something you should have on your shelf.

Read: “She Who Disbands Armies


Eileen Myles

We’re pretty sure any list like this would be totally null and void without Eileen Myles on it. Read everything she’s ever written, she continues to be one of the (if not the) most important people in American poetry.

Read: Anything by Myles you can get your hands on.