~by Caitlyn BucknerBackstrom

1. Shonto Begay

Video: Narrow Chimney “Religon by Hightline” By Shonto Begay


“She is no stranger to Old Man Winter

She has seen many winters

It has been colder”

Excerpt from Down Highway 163


Shonto Begay was born into the Navajo nation in 1954. Begay is an artist, writer, poet, and filmmaker. His experiences growing up in Native American culture, being forced into a Bureau of Indian Affairs boarding school, and spending 10 years in the National Park Service as a ranger influence all of his art and writing. Begay’s works try to keep the traditional Navajo culture alive while also expressing the realities and struggles of modern Native Americans.


2. Rupi Kaur

Video: Rupi Kaur Reads Timeless from Her Poetry Collection The Sun and Her Flowers on the Jimmy Fallon Show


“We might be able to take pictures and write stories,

but she made an entire world for herself.

How’s that for art”

Excerpt from Broken English


Rupi Kaur was born in India in 1992 and now lives and writes in Canada. Both of her poetry collections, milk and honey and the sun and her flowers, are critically acclaimed. Through her poetry she examines revolution, loss, trauma, healing, migration, and femininity in our modern world. Her poetry is often accompanied by small drawings that she makes herself that are meant to honor her culture and work.


3. Gregory Pardlo

Video: Poet Gregory Pardlo reads ‘Written by Himself’.


“I was born in minutes in a roadside kitchen a skillet

whispering my name. I was born to rainwater and lye;

I was born across the river where I

was borrowed with clothespins, a harrow tooth,

broadsides sewn in my shoes.”

Excerpt from Written by Himself


Gregory Pardlo was born in 1968 in Philadelphia and is best known for his two award winning poetry collections. Totem won Pardlo an American Poetry Review/Honickman First Book Prize in 2007 and Digest won him the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 2015. His work is hailed as both urban and highbrow, and he is well know for taking snapshots of life that are specific and yet universal.


4. Sarah Kay

Video: Sarah Kay If I should have a daughter TED Talk


“And she’s going to learn that this life will hit you hard in the face, wait for you to get back up just so it can kick you in the stomach. But getting the wind knocked out of you is the only way to remind your lungs how much they like the taste of air.”

Excerpt from If I Should Have a Daughter


Sarah Kay was born 1988 and lives in New York City. She is well known for her spoken word poetry. She founded and co-directs Project V.O.I.C.E which is dedicated to inspiring young people with spoken word poetry. Kay has published four poetry collections,  All Our Wild Wonder, No Matter the Wreckage, B, and The Type.


5. Suli Breaks

Video: Suli Breaks delivers his thought on Friends through a spoken word piece.


“Free like the sun in the sky

and if I’m a star maybe I’m a

fallen one ‘cos I plan to

make an impact”


Suli Breaks was born in England in 1988 and is exclusively a spoken word poet. He is best known for his poems Why I Hate School but Love Education and I Will Not Let an Exam Result Decide My Fate. His work draws on the experiences of young people in school and encourages them to reach for their dreams.


6. Cathy Park Hong

Video: Cathy Park Hong, P.O.P (“Shot and edited by poet and photographer Rachel Eliza Griffiths, P.O.P is a video series featuring contemporary American poets who read both an original poem and a poem by another poet, after which they reflect on their choice. They then answer a question contributed anonymously by a poet in the series, and leave their own question for another to answer. What results is an evolving, multifaceted conversation among poets about the art form.”)


“but this smart snow erases

nothing, seeps everywhere,

the search engine is inside us,

the world is our display”

Excerpt from Engines Within the Throne


Cathy Park Hong is a Korean-American poet and professor living in New Jersey. She has published three volumes of poetry, Translating Mo’um, Dance Dance Revolution, and Engine Empire. She is best known for her style of “code switching” or the use of mixed languages. She does this to create interactive possibilities and social experimentation.


7. Brian Turner

Video: Brian Turner reads his poem 2000 Lbs.



“I have a lover with hair that falls

like autumn leaves on my skin.

Water that rolls in smooth and cool

as anesthesia. Birds that carry

all my bullets into the barrel of the sun.”

Excerpt from R&R


Brian Turner was born in 1967 and is an American poet, essayist, and professor. He has published three poetry collections: Here, Bullet; Phantom Noise; My Life as a Foreign Country: A Memoir. He has won a Beatrice Hawley Award for Here, Bullet as well as a Lannan Literary Fellowship, NEA Literature Fellowship in Poetry, and the Amy Lowell Poetry Travelling Scholarship. He is best known for exposing the realities of war and being a soldier.


8. Amber Tamblyn

Video: Amber Tamblyn reads her poem “Untitled Actress”


“My childhood neighborhood is a shrine to my success,

and I’m a car with a bomb inside, ready

to pull up in front of it and stop


Excerpt from Epilogue Poem


Amber Tamblyn was born in 1983 and is an American actress and poet. Her work in both television and movies has influenced her poetry. She has two self-published books of poetry, Of the Dawn and Plenty of Ships, as well as three poetry collections Free Stallion, Bang Ditto, and Dark Sparkler, the latter of which explores the lives and deaths of child star actresses. She also co-founded the Write Now Poetry Society which is dedicated to creating poetry programs.


9. R.H. Sin


Reuben Holmes and his wife Samantha King, also a poet (original post on Instagram)


“She was a storm

not the kind

you run from

but the kind

you chase”


Poet Reuben Holmes, better known by his pen name R. H. Sin, was born in 1989 and lives in New York City. His poetry career started on social media sites like Instagram and have lead to six published poetry collections. These include Whiskey Words & a Shovel, Whiskey Words & a Shovel 2, Whiskey Words & a Shovel 3, Rest in the Mourning, Algedonic, and Planting Gardens in Graves. Later this year his seventh book, Empty Bottles Full of Stories, will be published. Here’s a fun article about Sin on The New YorkerThe Life of an Instagram Poet, and another, How Instagram Brought Literary Success to Feminist Poet r.h. Sin.


10. Amanda Lovelace

Video: Amanda Lovelace reads from her book To Make Monsters Out Of Girls


“make words

your finest weapons –

a gold-hilted sword

to cut your

enemies down”

Excerpt from a survival plan of sorts.


Amanda Lovelace is an American poet who is best known for her critical examination of the female experience in the 21st century. Lovelace was named Goodreads Poet of the Year. Her poetry collections include, The Princess Saves Herself in This One, The Witch Doesn’t Burn In This One, (which examines sexual harassment), Things That H(a)unt, and To Make Monsters Out of Girls, (which talks about abusive relationships).