Are you teaching your students about poetry but aren’t sure where to start? Well, have no fear, because there is great talent in the small Rhode Island!
Rarely mentioned or showcased alongside other larger states and cities for their art and culture, we at The Teaching Couple are proud to say that Rhode Island has many talented poets who are worth exploring.
To help you get started on your search for poetic inspiration from this little state by the sea, we present an exclusive list of The Top 27 Poets From Rhode Island.
Related: For more, check out our article on Poems About Rhode Island here.
1. Tina Cane
Tina Cane is a contemporary poet who hails from Hell’s Kitchen, NYC but now resides in Rhode Island. She is the founder and director of Writers-in-the-Schools, RI, an organization that fosters creative writing in learning institutions. Her poetry is often inspired by her experiences and observations of the world around her.
She tends to favour narrative poetry, where she tells stories through her poems. One of her famous poems is “The Fifth Thought” which beautifully captures her introspective style.
2. Rick Benjamin
Rick Benjamin served as the state poet of Rhode Island from 2013 to 2016. He lived in Providence, Rhode Island, and taught at Brown University and the Rhode Island School of Design.
His poetry is known for its deep thoughtfulness, often exploring human interaction and connection themes. His poem, “Floating World,” is a testament to his ability to weave intricate emotions into simple words.
3. Sarah Helen Whitman (1803–1878)
Sarah Helen Whitman was a poet who lived in Providence, Rhode Island in the 19th century. She was notably a romantic interest of Edgar Allan Poe, and their brief engagement profoundly impacted her work.
Whitman’s poetry is characterized by romantic and gothic themes, with one of her famous poems being “The Raven”.
4. Carolyn D. Wright (1949–2016)
Carolyn D. Wright was an award-winning American poet and translator. She was born in Mountain Home, Arkansas and spent most of her life in Rhode Island. Wright’s poetry is renowned for its vivid imagery and emotional depth.
She often wrote about the Southern United States, drawing inspiration from its landscapes and people. Her poem “One Big Self: Prisoners of Louisiana” reflects her unique style of writing.
5. Ted Berrigan (1934–1983)
Ted Berrigan was a central figure in the second generation of the New York School of poetry.
Born in Providence, Rhode Island, his work was greatly influenced by his experiences in the city and his interactions with other poets. Berrigan favoured avant-garde forms and his poem, “The Sonnets,” exemplifies his experimental style.
6. Galway Kinnell (1927–2014)
Galway Kinnell was an acclaimed American poet who was born in Providence, Rhode Island. His poetry was deeply rooted in the natural world, often exploring themes of mortality and love.
Kinnell’s work was known for its musicality and lyricism, as seen in his famous poem “The Book of Nightmares”.
7. H. P. Lovecraft (1890–1937)
H. P. Lovecraft, born in Providence, Rhode Island, is more known for his works in horror fiction but he also contributed significantly to poetry.
His poems often reflect the same cosmic horror and gothic themes as his prose. “Nemesis” is one of his well-known poems that showcases his unique style.
8. Sophia Louise Little (1799–1893)
Sophia Louise Little was a 19th-century poet from Newport, Rhode Island. Her poetry often celebrated patriotism and religion, reflecting her deep faith and love for her country.
One of her famous poems, “The Star Spangled Banner,” encapsulates her passion for these themes.
9. Franny Choi
Franny Choi is a poet, performer, and educator from Providence, Rhode Island. Her work often explores her Korean-American identity and the intersections of race, gender, and sexuality.
Choi’s style is characterized by its boldness and innovation, as seen in her popular poem “Perihelion: A History of Touch”.
10. Jennifer Militello
Have you ever lost yourself in the world of poetry? If so, you might be familiar with a certain poet named Jennifer Militello. Born in New York City and raised in Rhode Island, she has a knack for turning human emotions and experiences into captivating verses.
Her award-winning memoir, “Knock Wood”, and her thought-provoking collection, “The Pact”, are just two examples of how she mesmerizes her readers.
11. Catherine Imbriglio
Let’s journey into the world of Catherine Imbriglio. While not much is known about her personal life, her work provides a window into her mind. Her poetry dives deep into the complexities of human experiences, offering a fresh perspective on life. Isn’t it fascinating how words can reveal so much?
12. George Leite (1920–1985)
Picture this: the mid-20th century, a time of tremendous changes and upheaval. One poet who captured these tumultuous times was George Leite. Born in 1920, he was a prominent figure in the American poetry scene.
His poems, rich with themes of identity, conflict, and the human condition, serve as a testament to his era.
13. Cynthia Taggart (1801–1849)
Imagine being a woman poet in the 19th century. Cynthia Taggart didn’t have to imagine – she lived it. Despite the challenges of her time, Taggart’s poetry reflected the societal norms and values of her era. Her work serves as a reminder of the power of words, even in the most challenging circumstances.
14. Constance Hunting (1925–2006)
Meet Constance Hunting, an influential poet and publisher. Born in 1925 and living until 2006, she had a unique way of capturing the intricacies of life and human relationships. Her poetry, filled with themes of love, loss, and longing, paints a vivid picture of the human experience.
15. Leonard Bacon (1887–1954)
Let’s travel back to 1887, the birth year of Leonard Bacon. Known for his introspective and relatable poetry, Bacon had a deep understanding of human nature. His ability to weave complex themes into simple words is a testament to his talent as a poet and translator.
16. Alexander Chee
Have you ever read a poem that resonated with you? Alexander Chee is an expert at creating such experiences. His poetry explores many themes, from identity and culture to love and loss, leaving an indelible mark on the literary world.
17. Peter Johnson
Introducing Peter Johnson, a poet known for his engaging and thought-provoking work. His keen observation of the world around him is reflected in his poems, providing readers with a fresh perspective on everyday life.
It’s incredible, isn’t it, how poetry can make us see the world in a new light?
18. Forrest Gander
Last but not least, let’s meet Forrest Gander. As a poet, translator, and essayist, Gander uses language in dynamic ways to explore themes of ecology, landscape, and intimacy.
His work offers a unique blend of personal and universal narratives, reminding us of the power of poetry to connect us to the world.
19. Michael S. Harper (1938–2016)
Imagine being a professor at Brown University from 1970 to 2016, shaping generations of poets, writers, and scholars. That’s the legacy left by Michael S. Harper. His influence extended beyond academia as he served as the first poet laureate of Rhode Island.
Blues and jazz deeply influenced Harper’s poetry, and his work often addressed the injustices suffered by African Americans. His personal experiences as a black man were interwoven with an expansive view of history in his allusive, jazz-inflected poems.
Harper’s profound impact on the literary world is undeniable and his words continue to resonate today.
20. Jeanpaul Ferro
Unfortunately, our search did not yield any results for Jeanpaul Ferro. However, the absence of information does not diminish the potential impact of a poet’s work.
Poetry has a way of transcending barriers and touching hearts, regardless of how well-known the poet might be. We look forward to learning more about Jeanpaul Ferro in the future.
21. Blanche Oelrichs (1890–1950)
Travel back in time to the early 20th century and meet Blanche Oelrichs, a poet who lived from 1890 to 1950. While we don’t have a wealth of information about her, remember that each poet has a unique story to tell through their work.
Oelrichs’ poetry would have been shaped by her time’s societal norms and events, offering a glimpse into a bygone era.
22. Darcie Dennigan
Our search did not yield any results for Darcie Dennigan. Yet, it’s important to remember that the beauty of poetry lies not only in the poet’s reputation but in the power of their words.
Each verse penned by Dennigan has the potential to inspire, challenge, or comfort those who read it. We hope to discover more about Darcie Dennigan in the future.
23. Henry Howard Brownell (1820–1872)
Take a journey back to the 19th century, to the life of Henry Howard Brownell, a poet who lived from 1820 to 1872. Although we don’t have specific details about his life, we can imagine how his poetry would reflect the historical context of his time.
His work serves as a reminder of the enduring power of poetry to capture and communicate the human experience.
24. Catharine R. Williams (1787–1872)
Step back in time to the late 18th and early 19th centuries, when Catharine R. Williams was crafting her poetry. Born in 1787 and living until 1872, Williams’ work would have been influenced by her era’s significant events and societal changes.
Each line she wrote offers a fascinating snapshot of history, seen through the eyes of a woman living in a time of great change.
25. Mildred Barker (1897–1990)
Let’s travel back to the 20th century, to the life of Mildred Barker, who lived from 1897 to 1990. While we don’t have specific details about her life and work, we can appreciate how her poetry would have been shaped by the events of her time.
Barker’s work reminds us of the ability of poetry to capture the essence of an era, preserving it for future generations to explore and understand.
As we wrap up our tour of Rhode Island’s poetic landscape, we hope you’ve found inspiration in the diverse voices and rich histories that these poets bring to life. From Noah Warren’s introspective verses to Tina Cane’s impactful work as a Poet Laureate, these individuals have made significant contributions to the world of poetry.
They’ve used their words to explore the human condition, delve into societal issues, and celebrate the beauty of our world – all while proudly representing the Ocean State.
Remember these poets and their unique stories as you continue teaching your students about poetry. After all, great talent can come from the smallest places – Rhode Island proves that. Happy reading!