Sunday, April 27, 2008

Poemhunter's Top 25

Poemhunter is an online site featuring the poems of venerable poets as well as those of anyone who wants to post his or her poems on there. It's a great place to visit--a vast arena of poetry that all sorts of people visit. Of course, as a pedantic scholar, I must caution that the versions of poems you find there may not be accurate, so if you want to insure that you have the more or less correct edition of a poem, you need to go to "the standard edition." Apparently, the top 25 poets--based on how often the poet's "page" and his or her individual poems are "hit" or clicked on--are as follows:

1. Langston Hughes
2. Pablo Neruda
3. Maya Angelou
4. Shel Silverstein
5. William Shakespeare
6. Joe Fazio
7. Robert Frost
8. Charles Bukowski
9. Emily Dickinson
10.Edgar Allan Poe
11.Sylvia Plath
12.Walt Whitman
13.Jack Prelutsky
14.Gwendolyn Brooks
15.Dylan Thomas
16.William Blake
17.Elizabeth Bishop
18.ee cummings
19.Allen Ginsberg
20.Roald Dahl
21.Ogden Nash
22.Billy Collins
23.Dorothy Parker
24.Ted Hughes
25.Philip Larkin

How about that? Langston Hughes, #1. That's all right by me. He never pretended to be the poet of the people, but he also never tried not to be a poet of the people. I expected Neruda, Frost, Shakespeare, and Angelou to be up there. Silverstein isn't a complete surprise. I don't know the work of Joe Fazio, so I'd best look into that. Same goes for the work of Jack Prelutsky. Roald Dahl is a surprise, only because I think of him as a prose writer. Nash and Parker are a bit of a surprise, only because I might have assumed their work was getting dated, but I guess amusing light verse does and should have staying power. I love the eclectic mix of poets in the top 25; probably the list tells us, among other things, that it would be difficult to define the "demographic" of those who visit the site. I've posted some poems on there, and far and away the poem that gets the most hits is the one on Langston Hughes. This surprised me because most people who aren't poets or academics don't like poems on poets, but then I realized that because Hughes is the number one poet on the site, my poem was likely to get some echo-traffic from his site. Poemhunter may be the biggest "anthology" of poetry in history. It seems to have some ancillary sites--such as Poemsabout, a site that seems to link directly to Poemhunter but that has its own domain. I wish I knew more about sites that are kind of pilot-fish for larger sites. Wikipedia, for example, seems to be followed by lots of pilot-sites these days.

Anyway, go post a poem on poemhunter, or look up that favorite poet of yours, or search by topic. I rather like the warehouse, wholesale feel of the site.
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