18 Famous Poets From New York

Written by Dan

Last updated

Are you seeking inspiration from some of the best and most renowned poets America offers? If so, then look no further than New York!

From Walt Whitman’s transcendental poetry that celebrated democracy and humanity to Maya Angelou’s powerful words of empowerment, New York is home to many famous poets who have forever changed American literature.

This blog post will teach you more about the fantastic poetic works of iconic writers such as Langston Hughes, Dorothy Parker, and Sylvia Plath – all born or based in NYC.

This piece will guide your students through these timeless masterpieces beloved by generations while teaching them invaluable lessons. So join us as we reflect on how ground-breaking these figures were and inspire a new generation of talents with their legacies!

Related: For more, check out our article on Famous Poets From Texas  here.

Famous Poets From New York

John Ashbery


American poet John Ashbery was born in Rochester, New York in 1927. He was a prolific writer who favored the Abstract and Surrealist styles of poetry. His work is characterized by its philosophical depth, intricate syntax, and vivid imagery.

Ashbery’s poetry was often inspired by the complexities of modern life and the beauty of nature. One of his most famous poems is “Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror,” which won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1976. Throughout his life, Ashbery lived in many places, including New York City and Paris, each influencing his unique poetic voice.

Frank O’Hara


Frank O’Hara, a key member of the New York School of poets, was born in Baltimore, Maryland in 1926. His poetry is known for its conversational tone, spontaneous composition, and cultural references. O’Hara’s work was greatly influenced by jazz music, contemporary art, and his vibrant social life in New York City.

His poem “Why I Am Not a Painter” is a well-known piece that reflects his deep connection with the artistic community. O’Hara lived in New York City for much of his life, a city that was a constant source of inspiration for his works.

Walt Whitman


Walt Whitman, one of America’s most influential poets, was born in West Hills, New York in 1819. Whitman is celebrated for his free verse poetry that broke away from traditional poetic forms. His magnum opus, “Leaves of Grass,” is a collection of poems celebrating democracy, nature, love, and friendship.

Whitman drew inspiration from his experiences, observations, and the diverse American landscape. He lived in various parts of the United States, but spent his final years in Camden, New Jersey.

Bernadette Mayer


Bernadette Mayer, a central figure in the New York School of poets, was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1945. Known for her innovative approach to language, Mayer’s poetry often explores themes of sexuality, family life, and consciousness.

Her famous long poem “Midwinter Day,” written during a single day in Lenox, Massachusetts, is a remarkable exploration of time, memory, and place. Mayer’s work was deeply influenced by her experiences living in rural Massachusetts and New York City.

Bill Berkson


Bill Berkson, a prominent figure in the New York and San Francisco poetry scenes, was born in New York City in 1939. Berkson’s poetry often blends everyday observations with intellectual musings, creating a unique lyrical style.

One of his best-known poems is “Signature Song,” a poignant reflection on identity and memory. His friendships inspired Berkson’s work with artists, his travels, and his keen eye for the nuances of urban life. He lived in both New York City and San Francisco throughout his life.

Emma Lazarus


A renowned American poet, Emma Lazarus was born in New York City in 1849. Lazarus is best known for her sonnet “The New Colossus,” which is inscribed on the base of the Statue of Liberty.

Her poetry often addressed identity, exile, and the Jewish-American experience. Lazarus lived her entire life in New York City, and her work was profoundly shaped by her experiences within the city’s immigrant communities.

Langston Hughes


Langston Hughes, a leader of the Harlem Renaissance, was born in Joplin, Missouri in 1901. Hughes’s poetry, known for its jazz rhythms and vivid imagery, often explores racial identity, social justice, and the African-American experience.

His famous poem “The Negro Speaks of Rivers” is a powerful meditation on African American history and heritage. Hughes lived in various parts of the United States and travelled extensively abroad, experiences that greatly influenced his poetry.

Kenneth Koch


Kenneth Koch, a leading figure in the New York School of Poets, was born in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1925. Koch’s poetry is characterized by its playful humor, inventive language, and wide-ranging references.

His poem “The Art of Love” is a satirical take on the conventions of love poetry. Koch lived in many places, including New York City and Europe, and his work reflects his dynamic, cosmopolitan life.

Ted Berrigan


Ted Berrigan, a central figure in the second generation of the New York School of poets, was born in Providence, Rhode Island in 1934. Berrigan’s poetry is known for its colloquial language, experimental forms, and candid exploration of personal experiences.

His most famous work, “The Sonnets,” is a sequence of poems that reimagines the traditional sonnet form. Berrigan lived in New York City for much of his life, and the city’s vibrant literary scene greatly influenced his work.

James Schuyler


James Marcus Schuyler, an American poet, was born in Chicago on November 9, 1923. He studied architecture and history at Bethany College from 1941 to 1943. His first significant poetry collection, “Freely Espousing,” was published when he was 46 years old in 1969. Other significant collections from Schuyler include “The Crystal Lithium.”

He is well-known for his unique talent in writing, which won him a Pulitzer Prize for Poetry for his 1980 collection. Schuyler was also an associate editor of ARTnews from 1957 to 1962. He resided in New York City since 1950, becoming a member of the New York School circle of poets and painters.

Barbara Guest


Barbara Guest was an influential American poet and a prominent figure in the New York School of poets. Her poetry is known for its innovative form and language, often exploring art, culture, and identity themes.

While specific details about her life and work are not readily available, her impact on the world of poetry is widely recognized.

Frank Lima


Frank Lima was a celebrated American poet known for his vivid imagery and unique poetic voice. Born in 1939, Lima’s poetry often explored his experiences and observations of the world around him.

His work is a testament to his ability to transform everyday experiences into profound poetic expressions.

David Shapiro

David Shapiro is a renowned poet known for his intricate use of language and complex poetic structures. His work often explores themes of identity, culture, and memory.

While specific details about his life and work are not readily available, Shapiro’s contributions to the field of poetry are widely acknowledged.

Joe Brainard


Joe Brainard, an American poet and artist, was born in 1941. His work, characterized by its innovative use of language and form, often explores themes of identity, memory, and the mundane aspects of everyday life. Brainard’s unique fusion of art and poetry has left a lasting impact on the literary world.

Reginald Shepherd


Reginald Shepherd, an American poet, was born in 1963. His poetry is known for its lyrical beauty and personal and cultural identity exploration. Shepherd’s work often reflects his experiences and observations of the world, providing insightful commentary on contemporary society.

Lewis Warsh


Lewis Warsh, a vital figure in the New York School of poets, was born in 1944. His poetry is characterized by its conversational tone, innovative use of language, and introspective exploration of personal experiences. Warsh’s work often reflects his keen observations of urban life and human relationships.

Tony Towle

Tony Towle, a respected poet, is known for inventing language and form. His work often explores themes of identity, memory, and the nuances of everyday life. While specific details about his life and work are not readily available, Towle’s contributions to the field of poetry are widely recognized.

Aram Saroyan

A notable poet, Aram Saroyan is celebrated for his minimalist approach to poetry. His work is characterized by its simplicity, clarity, and focus on the essence of language. While specific details about his life and work are not readily available, Saroyan’s unique approach to poetry has significantly impacted the literary world.

As we draw our journey to a close, we hope this exploration into the lives and works of New York’s famous poets has left you feeling inspired and enlightened.

From the lyrical beauty of Langston Hughes’ work that speaks volumes about the African-American experience, to Dorothy Parker’s biting wit that still resonates in modern society, and Sylvia Plath’s profound introspection that continues to captivate readers worldwide, each poet brings a unique perspective that has enriched American literature.

Remember, the power of poetry lies not just in its aesthetic value, but also in its ability to capture the human experience in all its complexity. Through their words, these poets have managed to transcend time and space, connecting with readers across generations and geographies.

They have shown us that poetry is more than mere words on a page; it reflects our society, struggles, joys, and shared humanity.

We invite you to continue exploring the world of poetry, delve deeper into these great poets’ works, and draw from their wisdom and creativity. Who knows? You might even find your own voice along the way. After all, every poet started out as a reader, just like you.

In the end, let’s remember that as much as New York City has shaped these poets and their work, they too have left an indelible mark on the city. Their words echo in its streets, parks, and buildings, making New York not just a city of towering skyscrapers and bright lights, but also a city of vibrant poetry and timeless stories.

So, the next time you find yourself wandering the streets of New York, listen closely. You might just hear the whispers of Whitman, Parker’s laughter, or Plath’s sighs.

To all aspiring poets out there, let these iconic figures serve as a source of inspiration. Carry their legacies forward. Let your voices be heard. After all, you are the next generation of poets who will continue to shape and define the ever-evolving landscape of American literature.

Happy reading, happy writing, and here’s to the endless power of poetry!

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.






Join our email list to receive the latest updates.

Add your form here