The Top 18 Poets From Utah

Written by Dan

Welcome to our blog post on the top 18 poets from Utah! We hope you all find this article both engaging and comprehensive. Whether you consider yourself an amateur or a professional when it comes to poetry, we’ve got something for everyone in this carefully curated list of outstanding writers who hail from the Beehive State.

Every single one of these amazing talents has contributed significantly to the art form of poetry throughout history, proving that creativity knows no geographical bounds. Prepare to be amazed by their groundbreaking ideas and thought-provoking works—and perhaps pick up some new techniques along the way too!

The Top 18 Poets From Utah

1. Terry Tempest Williams

Terry Tempest Williams is renowned for her profound connection with the natural world, often drawing inspiration from the landscapes of her home state, Utah. Her poetry is deeply rooted in environmentalism and activism.

One of her most notable works is “Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place,” where she beautifully combines personal narrative with nature writing. Her work is a unique blend of poetry, essay, and memoir, creating a genre all her own.

2. David Lee

David Lee, Utah’s first Poet Laureate, is best known for his engaging narrative style and his deep connection to rural life. His collection, “The Porcine Canticles,” is a testament to his ability to find poetry in the everyday lives of ordinary people.

A former semi-truck driver, his work is rich with the imagery and language of the American West, and he has been recognized for his contributions to the cowboy poetry genre.

3. Lance Larsen

Lance Larsen, a former poet laureate of Utah, is known for his unique blend of lyric and narrative verse. Larsen’s poetry is characterized by its vivid imagery, emotional depth, and exploration of personal relationships and spirituality.

His “Backyard Alchemy” collection showcases his ability to find beauty and mystery in everyday experiences. Larsen has been inspired by his travels and his Mormon faith.

4. Katharine Coles

Katharine Coles, a distinguished professor at the University of Utah, is known for her innovative use of form and her exploration of science and art. Her collection, “The Earth Is Not Flat,” was inspired by her journey to Antarctica as part of the National Science Foundation’s Antarctic Artists and Writers Program.

Coles’ poetry is marked by its intellectual rigor, formal experimentation, and emotional honesty.

5. May Swenson (1913–1989)

May Swenson was one of America’s most inventive and recognized poets of the 20th century. Born in Logan, Utah, to Swedish immigrant parents, her work often reflects her fascination with nature, science, and the human body.

Her poem “Question” is just one example of her playful yet profound style. Swenson’s poetry is known for its creative use of form and its sensual and precise imagery.

6. Ken Brewer (1941–2006)

Ken Brewer was a beloved figure in Utah’s literary community. Brewer shared his love of language with countless students and readers as a professor at Utah State University and later as Utah’s Poet Laureate.

His collection, “Why Dogs Stopped Flying,” reveals his keen observation skills and deep empathy for the human and non-human world. Brewer’s poetry is characterized by its warmth, humor, and accessibility.

7. Eryn Green

Eryn Green, winner of the Yale Series of Younger Poets prize for his book “Eruv,” is a rising star in the poetry world. Based in Denver, Colorado, Green is known for his lyrical style and his exploration of themes like identity, space, and connection.

His work is deeply influenced by his Jewish faith and his studies in environmental humanities.

8. Eliza R. Snow (1804–1887)

Eliza R. Snow was a leading figure in the early Latter Day Saint movement and a pioneering voice in Mormon literature. Her hymn, “O My Father,” is one of her most enduring works, reflecting her deep faith and her belief in eternal families.

Snow’s poetry is marked by its religious devotion, rhythmic beauty, and emotional resonance.

9. Emma Lou Thayne (1924–2014)

Emma Lou Thayne was a beloved Utah poet, known for her insightful and compassionate exploration of human relationships, spirituality, and the natural world. Her poem “How Much for the Earth?

A Suite of Poems for the Planet” reflects her concern for the environment and her belief in the power of love and unity. Thayne’s work is characterized by its wisdom, its deep humanity, and its lyrical beauty.

utah poets

10. James Radcliffe Squires (1917–1993)

Let’s start our literary journey with James Radcliffe Squires, an American poet, writer, critic, and academic whose life was as vibrant as his poetry. Squires was born in Salt Lake City, Utah, and served with the United States Naval Reserve from 1941-1945. This experience not only shaped his worldview but also influenced his poetic creations.

One of his most notable works is “Gardens of the World,” a book of poetry that astounded readers with its originality and depth when it was published when he was sixty-three. With a unique blend of intellectual rigor and emotional honesty, Squires’ poetry often deals with themes of spirituality, nature, and human relationships.

11. Emmeline B. Wells (1828–1921)

Next, we travel back to the 19th century with Emmeline B. Wells. An influential figure in the women’s suffrage movement in Utah, Wells used her poetry as a powerful tool for advocacy. Her strong faith as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and her passionate commitment to women’s rights permeated her work.

Through her evocative verse, Wells highlighted the struggles and triumphs of women, inspiring change and challenging societal norms.

12. Brewster Ghiselin (1903–2002)

Fast forward to the 20th century, we encounter Brewster Ghiselin, a distinguished poet, critic, and academic. Ghiselin’s work is characterized by its exploration of the human condition in all its complexity.

His poetry often delved into the intricacies of personal relationships, existential questions, and the beauty and terror of the natural world. With a deep understanding of human emotions and a keen eye for detail, Ghiselin offered readers a profound and nuanced perspective on life.

13. Leonardo Alishan (1951–2005)

Our journey then takes us to Leonardo Alishan, an internationally acclaimed poet known for his evocative and lyrical verse. Born in Italy and later settling in the United States, Alishan’s work reflects his diverse cultural experiences and deep love for language.

His poetry, rich with vivid imagery and raw emotion, invites readers to explore themes of love, loss, and the awe-inspiring beauty of the natural world.

14. Augusta Joyce Crocheron (1844–1915)

We then cross paths with Augusta Joyce Crocheron, a prominent writer and poet in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Her work often reflected her strong faith and her commitment to family and community.

Through her poetry, Crocheron gave voice to the experiences and perspectives of women during a time of significant social change. Her writings serve as a potent reminder of the resilience of women and their crucial role in shaping society.

15. Jacqueline Osherow

In the contemporary era, we meet Jacqueline Osherow, an acclaimed poet whose work is characterized by its formal innovation, intellectual curiosity, and emotional depth. Drawing from her Jewish heritage and her experiences as a woman, Osherow’s poetry explores themes of faith, identity, and the complexities of modern life.

Her skillful use of traditional poetic forms to address contemporary issues creates a unique blend of the old and the new, inviting readers to engage in a thought-provoking dialogue with the past and present.

16. Paisley Rekdal

Next, we encounter Paisley Rekdal, a dynamic voice in contemporary poetry. Rekdal uses her platform to explore complex issues of race, sexuality, and cultural identity. Her lyrically powerful and thought-provoking work weaves personal narratives and critical inquiry together, inviting readers to question, reflect, and understand different perspectives.

17. Kimberly Johnson

We then meet Kimberly Johnson, a respected poet and scholar. Her work combines intellectual rigour with poetic sensitivity, inviting readers to engage with language in new and exciting ways.

Drawing from her background in Renaissance literature and her fascination with the natural world, Johnson’s poetry is a rich tapestry of historical references, scientific details, and lyrical beauty.

18. Mark Strand (1934–2014)

Finally, our journey concludes with Mark Strand, one of America’s most celebrated poets. Born in Canada and later becoming a U.S. citizen, Strand’s work is marked by its minimalist style, philosophical depth, and dark humor.

His collection “Blizzard of One” won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1999, cementing his legacy as a true giant of American literature. Strand’s poetry, with its haunting imagery and introspective themes, offers readers a glimpse into the human psyche and the existential dilemmas of modern life.

And there you have it, our comprehensive list of the top 18 poets from Utah. From the early 19th century to the present day, these remarkable talents have left their indelible mark on the world of poetry.

Each of these poets, with their unique voices and perspectives, has contributed something special to the rich tapestry of literature. They’ve pushed boundaries, provoked thought, and inspired countless readers around the globe. Their work serves as a testament to the power of poetry to express the human condition, challenge societal norms, and celebrate the beauty of language.

We hope this journey through the poetic landscape of Utah has been both enlightening and inspiring for you. Whether you’re an avid poetry reader or a budding writer, we believe there’s something to learn and appreciate from each of these poets. Their stories remind us that creativity can flourish anywhere and that every voice matters.

So, remember these poets from Utah next time you pick up a pen or open a book. Let their courage, creativity, and passion inspire you. And who knows? Perhaps one day, your name will be added to this illustrious list of poets. Until then, keep reading, writing, and most importantly, exploring the beautiful world 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.






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