A conversation this weekend with another poet has me thinking about whose work I've learned from and loved or respected. So, in more or less random order, I'd want a "desert island book" that includes poems by each of these American poets:
Emily Dickinson, Walt Whitman, Robert Frost, T. S. Eliot, Ezra Pound, Maryann Moore, Amy Lowell, Mina Loy, Robinson Jeffers, William Carlos Williams, Wallace Stephens, Langston Hughes, Allen Ginsburg, Jack Kerouac, Robert Creeley, Sylvia Plath, Ann Sexton, Robert Lowell, Elizabeth Bishop, John Berryman, Denise Levertov, Robert Hayden, Adrienne Rich, Muriel Rukeyser, Louis Simpson, James Wright, Theodore Roethke, William Stafford, John Ashbury, Marge Piercy, Maxine Kumin, Pattiann Rogers, Gary Snyder, Rita Dove, Gwendolyn Brooks, Lucille Clifton, Mary Oliver, Ted Kooser, Billy Collins, and Charles Simic.
This list is completely subjective, and I could make another list of poets from around the world. I'd love to hear suggestions about other people's favorites, most necessary, etc. Limiting my choices to 40 made me think hard about whose work matters most to me. At this moment, in this place, with my limited brain and resources, this is my A list.