18 Famous Poets From Maryland

Written by Dan

Last updated

As a teacher, you know that knowledge of history is an essential component to the academic success of your students. Maryland has been home to many notable and influential historical figures in American culture, none more groundbreaking than its famous poets. From Pulitzer Prize-winners to naturalist authors, Maryland has witnessed remarkable wordsmiths and creatives who have impacted generations of readers near and far. In this blog post, we will explore the works and lives of these acclaimed writers from the “Old Line State” so that you may have a greater appreciation for their influence on literature everywhere.


Linda Pastan


Linda Pastan was a prolific American poet who lived from 1932 to 2023. Born and raised in New York, Pastan later made Maryland her home. Her poetry deeply influenced her experiences as a woman, wife, and mother. She often explored themes of domestic life, love, loss, and the intricate complexities of everyday existence. Her work is characterized by its accessibility, emotional depth, and sharp observations. One of her most celebrated poems is “Marks,” which beautifully encapsulates her exploration of the expectations and roles women are often subjected to. Pastan’s poetry, while rooted in the personal, resonates with universal human experiences, making her one of the most revered poets of her time.

Lucille Clifton


Lucille Clifton, who lived from 1936 to 2010, was a prominent African American poet and writer. Born in Depew, New York, she spent much of her life in Baltimore, Maryland. Clifton’s poetry was marked by its brevity, powerful imagery, and exploration of the African American experience. Her work often delved into themes of resilience, identity, family, and the human capacity for survival. One of her most well-known poems is “won’t you celebrate with me,” a poignant reflection on her journey and survival as a Black woman. Clifton’s poetry continues to inspire and influence generations of readers and writers.

Edgar Allan Poe


Edgar Allan Poe, a master of the macabre, lived from 1809 to 1849. Born in Boston, Massachusetts, Poe spent significant parts of his life in Baltimore, Richmond, and Philadelphia. His poetry, known for its rhythmic, haunting quality, often explores themes of death, love lost, and the darker aspects of the human psyche. Poe’s “The Raven” is arguably one of the most famous poems in American literature, showcasing his ability to create an atmosphere of suspense and dread. Poe’s innovative and imaginative work profoundly impacted the literary world, influencing genres from detective fiction to science fiction.

Stanley Plumly


Stanley Plumly, a distinguished American poet and educator, lived from 1939 to 2019. Born in Barnesville, Ohio, he spent many years in Maryland as a professor at the University of Maryland. Plumly’s poetry is characterized by its lyrical beauty, emotional depth, and keen observation of the natural world. His work often reflects on memory, mortality, and the passage of time. One of his most acclaimed poems is “Old Heart,” a profound meditation on aging and the relentless march of time. Plumly’s contribution to American poetry continues to be celebrated for its elegance, wisdom, and humanity.

Sidney Lanier


An American musician and poet, Sidney Lanier lived from 1842 to 1881. Born in Macon, Georgia, Lanier’s work was heavily influenced by the landscapes and culture of the South. His poetry, known for its musicality and rich imagery, often celebrates the beauty of nature and expresses a deep spiritual faith. Lanier’s “The Song of the Chattahoochee” is a beloved poem that captures the vitality and movement of the Chattahoochee River. His work continues to be appreciated for its unique blend of music and poetry, reflecting his belief in the interconnectedness of the arts.

Francis Scott Key


Francis Scott Key lived from 1779 to 1843 and was an American lawyer, author, and amateur poet. Born and raised in Frederick County, Maryland, Key is best known for writing the lyrics to “The Star-Spangled Banner,” which would later become the United States’ national anthem. Inspired by the sight of the American flag flying over Fort McHenry after a night of heavy British bombardment during the War of 1812, Key’s words capture a moment of triumph and national pride. His contribution to American literature, though primarily remembered for this singular poem, remains an integral part of the nation’s cultural heritage.

Frances Ellen Watkins Harper


Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, an influential African American poet, author, and social activist, lived from 1825 to 1911. Born in Baltimore, Maryland, Harper’s work was deeply informed by her experiences as a Black woman in 19th-century America. Her poetry often addresses themes of racial justice, gender equality, and abolitionism. One of her most well-known poems is “Bury Me in a Free Land,” a powerful plea against the horrors of slavery. Harper’s contributions to literature and social reform resonate with contemporary readers, underscoring her lasting impact on American history and culture.

Michael Collier

Michael Collier is a contemporary American poet, essayist, and teacher. Born in Phoenix, Arizona, he has spent much of his career in Maryland, serving as the state’s Poet Laureate from 2001 to 2004. Collier’s poetry is known for its narrative strength, vivid imagery, and personal and collective memory exploration. His work often reflects on his upbringing in the American Southwest, his experiences as a teacher, and the complexities of human relationships. One of his most notable poems is “The Bees of Deir Keifa,” a poignant reflection on loss and remembrance.

Grace Cavalieri

Grace Cavalieri is a beloved figure in contemporary American poetry. Born in Trenton, New Jersey, Cavalieri has made Maryland her home for many years. Her poetry, marked by its warmth, humor, and accessibility, explores themes of love, loss, and the richness of everyday life. Cavalieri’s poem “Work is My Secret Lover” explores creativity and the poetic process. In addition to her writing, Cavalieri is also celebrated for her contribution to the literary community as a radio host, promoting the work of other poets through her long-running radio show, “The Poet and the Poem.”

F. Scott Fitzgerald


Have you ever delved into the enchanting world of F. Scott Fitzgerald? Born in 1896 and leaving an indelible mark on literature by 1940, Fitzgerald was renowned for his evocative imagery and keen insights into the American psyche during the Jazz Age. His work, characterized by its lyrical prose and intricate exploration of themes such as wealth, love, and the American Dream, continues to inspire and captivate readers. Have you read “The Great Gatsby”, one of Fitzgerald’s most celebrated works? It perfectly encapsulates his ability to weave compelling narratives with profound thematic depth.

Roland Flint


Roland Flint lived from 1934 to 2001 and was a respected voice in American poetry. Drawing extensively from personal experiences and observations, his work often explored love, loss, and human resilience themes. Flint’s poetry, known for its emotional honesty and vivid imagery, resonates deeply with readers, offering a mirror to their own experiences. His poem “Say It” is a powerful testament to his ability to evoke emotion through words.

Michael Glaser

Michael Glaser is a prominent figure in contemporary American poetry. His work, marked by its accessibility and emotional depth, often explores themes of nature, spirituality, and the human condition. One of Glaser’s notable poems is “Out of the Depths,” which beautifully captures his exploration of faith and humanity. While deeply personal, his poetry speaks to universal experiences, making it resonate with a broad audience.

Lizette Woodworth Reese


Lizette Woodworth Reese, who lived from 1856 to 1935, was a celebrated American poet. Her poetry, known for its simplicity and lyricism, often drew inspiration from her rural upbringing. Reese’s work is characterized by its rich imagery, intimate tone, and evocative exploration of nature and everyday life. Have you come across her poem “Tears”? It’s a poignant reflection on loss and longing that showcases her lyrical style.

Joe Cardarelli


Joe Cardarelli, an influential figure in American poetry, lived from 1944 to 1994. His work, characterized by its raw energy and innovative use of language, often challenged traditional poetic conventions. Cardarelli’s poetry, steeped in urban life and personal experiences, resonates with readers for its authenticity and emotional depth. His poem “Junkman’s Obbligato” is a powerful testament to his unique poetic voice.

Reginald Dwayne Betts

Reginald Dwayne Betts is a contemporary American poet, lawyer, and social activist. His poetry, drawn from his experiences in the criminal justice system, offers a poignant commentary on race, justice, and incarceration in America. Betts’ work is characterized by its emotional intensity, narrative strength, and profound social insight. One of his most acclaimed poems is “Ghazal,” a profound exploration of freedom and identity.

Mary Jo Salter

Mary Jo Salter is a respected figure in contemporary American poetry. Her work, known for its technical mastery and emotional depth, often explores themes of family, history, and the passage of time. With its precise language and keen observation, Salter’s poetry resonates with readers for its insightful exploration of human experiences. Her poem “A Kiss in Space” is a beautiful testament to her lyrical and narrative skills.

Jane Mead


Jane Mead, a celebrated American poet, lived from 1958 to 2019. Her work, deeply rooted in the natural world, often explored themes of loss, love, and human connection to nature. Mead’s poetry, known for its spare language and profound emotional resonance, inspires and moves readers. Her poem “Money Money Money Water Water Water” beautifully captures her deep connection with the natural world.

Afaa M. Weaver

Afaa M. Weaver is a prominent figure in contemporary American poetry. His work, characterized by its narrative strength and exploration of cultural identity, often reflects his experiences as an African American man in modern America. Weaver’s poetry, marked by its emotional depth and vivid imagery, resonates with readers for its potent exploration of personal and collective experiences. One of his most acclaimed poems is “Rambling,” a poignant reflection on memory and identity.

The poets of Maryland have left behind a rich legacy that continues to inspire and influence literature today. Their unique voices and perspectives have shaped the literary landscape of Maryland and contributed significantly to American and global poetry. Their works—ranging from explorations of nature and human emotions to commentaries on social issues—provide invaluable insights into the human experience. As you delve into their writings, you’ll discover the power of words to evoke emotions, provoke thought, and bridge cultural divides.

Whether you’re an educator seeking to enrich your students’ understanding of literature or a reader looking to expand your literary horizons, these Maryland poets offer a treasure trove of wisdom, beauty, and inspiration. Remember, every poem is a journey, inviting us to see the world through different eyes and understand it in new ways. So why not embark on this adventure and let the poets of Maryland guide your way?

About The Author

I'm Dan Higgins, one of the faces behind The Teaching Couple. With 15 years in the education sector and a decade as a teacher, I've witnessed the highs and lows of school life. Over the years, my passion for supporting fellow teachers and making school more bearable has grown. The Teaching Couple is my platform to share strategies, tips, and insights from my journey. Together, we can shape a better school experience for all.






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