Canon-Fodder Friday: Poetry

Today I’d like to consider and open up a discussion on what should be the educational canon for poetry. This is to build on last week’s consideration of the Literary Canon. This list is severely skewed toward English language poets and especially American poets, so please insert your opinion with full force.

In general, poetry gets unequal coverage in our school system. However, it deserves its rightful place in the canon. I largely want to consider the poetry of the part 150 years so we can optimistically assume that Chaucer, Shakespeare, Spenser, Milton, Coleridge, Byron, Shelley, Keats and Browning have been covered. My question is: what about when it veers modern, with use of free verse and open verse, from the Victorian practices? [By this definition, Tennyson and Dickinson are Victorian.]

Here’s my list for our Poetry Top Ten, or Verse: Walt Whitman to Today–

1) Walt Whitman–Song of Myself
2) Robert Frost–“Mending Wall”, “The Road Not Taken”, “Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening”
3) William Carlos Williams–“The Ivy Crown”, “The Red Wheelbarrow”, “This Is Just to Say”, “Poem”
4) T. S. Eliot–“The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”, “The Wasteland”
5) e. e. cummings–“in Just-“, “next to of course god america i”, “r-p-o-p-h-e-s-s-a-g-r”, “anyone lived in a pretty how town”
6) Rainer Maria Rilke–Duino Elegies
7) Wallace Stevens–“Anecdote of the Jar”, “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird”
8) Sylvia Plath–“Daddy”, “The Edge”, “Lady Lazarus”, “The Colossus”,
9) Allen Ginsberg–Howl and Other Poems
10) Ntozake Shange–for colored girls who have considered suicide/ when the rainbow is enuf

I’ve tried to list poets that changed the face of poetry. Yes, the list could easily have been double in length. But what are your thoughts?

Also, check out the further additions of Canon-Fodder Fridays:
March 20th– World Lit. Canon [Lorca, Camus, Chekhov . . .]
March 27th– Non-fiction Canon and Other [plays, graphic novels etc.]


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