The Top 18 Famous Poets From Oklahoma

Written by Dan

Last updated

You may be surprised to learn that Oklahoma has a rich poetry history. This state has produced its fair share of notable poets from different backgrounds and schools of thought.

Whether you’re looking for contemporary poets or timeless classics, Oklahoma has something to offer everyone!

In this post, we’ll cover 18 famous poets from Oklahoma who have created some of our most beloved words and phrases across generations.

From chanting music lyrics to rapping rhymes around the campfire, these are the voices Oklahoma can proudly claim as its own. Let’s examine what these talented writers have contributed over the years!

Related: For more, check out our article on Poems About Oklahoma  here.

Famous Poets From Oklahoma

1. Joy Harjo

Joy Harjo is a renowned poet, musician, and author who was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA. She is of Muscogee (Creek) Nation descent and often incorporates indigenous storytelling and histories into her work.

Her poetry is noted for its incorporation of natural elements and spirituality. One of her most famous poems is “She Had Some Horses,” which uses powerful repetition and symbolism.

Harjo’s work often explores themes of injustice, survival, and the need for remembrance.

2. Alexander Lawrence Posey

Alexander Lawrence Posey, born in 1873, was a celebrated poet, journalist, and humorist from the Creek Nation. He lived in the Indian Territory, which is now Oklahoma. Inspired by nature, Posey’s poetry often mirrors the beauty of his surroundings.

His famous poem, “Ode to Sequoyah,” pays homage to the creator of the Cherokee writing system. Posey favored lyric poetry and used it as a tool to express his thoughts on social issues.

3. Joyce Carol Thomas

Joyce Carol Thomas, born in 1938, was an award-winning African American poet, playwright, and children’s book author. She spent much of her life in Ponca City, Oklahoma.

Her experiences growing up in a large family in the rural South served as inspiration for her work. Her poem “The Blacker the Berry” celebrates the beauty of blackness. Thomas’s poetry is characterized by its evocative imagery and strong sense of voice.

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

4. N. Scott Momaday

N. Scott Momaday is a Kiowa novelist, short story writer, essayist, and poet. He was born in Lawton, Oklahoma and raised on reservations in the Southwest. His poetry is deeply rooted in Native American culture and the landscape of the American West.

His famous poem “The Delight Song of Tsoai-talee” reflects his connection to the natural world. Momaday’s work is often marked by its rich use of language and mythological elements.

5. Toni Morrison

Toni Morrison, born in 1931, was an influential American novelist, essayist, editor, teacher, and poet. She lived in Lorain, Ohio and later in New York. Like her novels, her poetry often dealt with themes of black identity, racial injustice, and female empowerment.

Her poem “I Am Not Seaworthy” is a poignant exploration of self and identity. Morrison’s work is known for its epic themes, vivid dialogue, and richly detailed characters.

6. John Berryman

Born in 1914, John Berryman was an influential American poet and scholar. He lived in Oklahoma and Minnesota. Its intense emotionality and innovative structure often characterizes his work.

His most famous work, “The Dream Songs,” is a collection of 385 interconnected poems that explore his struggles. Its complexity and depth of feeling often marks Berryman’s poetry.

7. Julie Ann Ward

Julie Ann Ward is a contemporary poet, translator, and professor. She was born in Oklahoma and has lived in Mexico. Her work often explores the intersection of different cultures and languages.

One of her notable poems is “Translation,” which explores the nuances of understanding and communication. Ward’s poetry is characterized by its thoughtful exploration of language and identity.

8. Louis Jenkins

Born in 1942, Louis Jenkins was an American prose poet from Enid, Oklahoma. His poetry frequently reflects on everyday life and the natural world. His famous poem “Football” is a humorous and poignant commentary on life’s absurdities.

Jenkins favored prose poetry and his work is known for its distinctive voice and dry humor.

9. Ted Berrigan

Ted Berrigan, born in 1934, was a prominent American poet associated with the second generation of the New York School of poets. He lived in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and New York City. His poetry is characterized by its spontaneity, energy, and colloquial style.

One of his most famous works is “The Sonnets,” an experimental sequence that plays with traditional sonnet forms. Berrigan’s work often reflects his urban experiences and personal relationships.

10. Don Blanding

Don Blanding, born in 1894, was an American poet often referred to as the “Poet Laureate of Hawaii.” Born in Kingfisher, Oklahoma, he spent much of his life in Hawaii, a place that heavily influenced his poetry.

His love for the climate and culture of Hawaii is evident in his works. He was also a journalist, cartoonist, and novelist. One of his well-known books, “Joy Is an Inside Job,” reflects his optimistic view of life.

11. Chad Sweeney

Chad Sweeney is a contemporary American poet, translator, and editor. His poetry is known for its lyrical and imaginative style. Many of his poems explore themes of nature, love, and the human condition.

Unfortunately, further details about his life, inspirations, and specific works are not readily available.

12. Ron Padgett

Ron Padgett is a renowned American poet, essayist, fiction writer, and translator. His poetry is characterized by its humor, wordplay, and accessibility. Padgett’s work often reflects on everyday life and the absurdities of the human experience.

Further details about his life, inspirations, and specific works are not readily available.

13. Quraysh Ali Lansana

Quraysh Ali Lansana is an American poet, writer, and academic. His work often explores themes of African American history, culture, and community. Its strong voice and powerful imagery marks Lansana’s poetry.

14. Pamela Harrison

Pamela Harrison is a contemporary American poet. Her poetry often explores love, loss, and the complexities of human relationships.

15. Louis Oliver

Louis Oliver, who lived between 1904 and 1991, was an American poet. His poetry often explored themes of nature, spirituality, and the human experience.

16. Ed Roberts

Ed Roberts is a contemporary American poet. His poetry often explores themes of nature, spirituality, and human emotion. Unfortunately, further details about his life, inspirations, and specific works are not readily available.

17. Kathleen Fraser

Kathleen Fraser, who lived from 1935 to 2019, was an influential American poet and essayist. Her work often explored themes of feminism, language, and identity. Fraser’s poetry is known for its innovative forms and powerful voice.

18. John McClure

John McClure, who lived from 1893 to 1956, was an American poet. His poetry often explored themes of nature, spirituality, and the human condition.


Now that we’ve taken this enriching journey through the poetic landscape of Oklahoma, it’s clear to see how each of these 18 poets has left an indelible mark not only on the state but on the world of poetry as a whole.

Their words have given voice to the human condition, painted vivid portraits of nature and culture, invoked laughter and tears, and, above all, have told stories that resonate with us all.

From the vibrant Hawaiian-inspired verses of Don Blanding to the thought-provoking feminist narratives of Kathleen Fraser, these poets have shown us how diverse and powerful poetry can be.

Isn’t it fascinating how every verse, every line, and every word can transport us to different places, times, and emotions? That’s the magic of poetry! And remember, these are just 18 of the many voices Oklahoma has gifted the world.

So why not explore more? Who knows, you might discover a new favorite poet or even feel inspired to pen down a few lines yourself!

In closing, let’s celebrate these 18 poets from Oklahoma for their remarkable contribution to the literary world. Their poetry has shaped our understanding, challenged our perspectives, and touched our hearts.

And they continue to do so, one poem at a time. Ultimately, isn’t that what makes poetry so timeless and universal?

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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