Language and Literature

Stay Connected

Favorite Poems TAMUK

 Introduction to the Project

At the turn of this century, before COVID, before 9/11, when the world seemed young, the United States Poet Laureate that year, Robert Pinsky, decided to ask Americans for their favorite poems—and this is what is interesting!—why those people chose that poem. Some 17,000 people answer Pinsky’s call for poetry. As part of the project, many Americans were filmed reading their favorite poems and discussing why those poems were their favorites (I invite you to click on In addition, a book, some 110 poems and their introductions, submitted by we the people, was published. Reading this anthology, one sees that poetry is alive. Looking at the many offerings of world poetry, one sees, not what was lost in translation, but what was gained. Poetry is not remembered by any one social class or by an age group. It wears many skin colors and employments, and it is composed of ideas as diverse as we are.

Here at TAMUK, for our English 2342 courses in Spring 2021 (twenty years later), I used Americans’ Favorite Poems (W.W. Norton, 2000) as one of the courses’ textbooks. I wanted the students in my courses (this COVID year) to choose their favorite poems and write brief introductions to them. How delightful it has been to meet these people through their own writing, as well as through the reasons they read and write. For so many at this writing, our society seems to be one less of freedom and opportunity, one more of hardship and closed doors, one of fear of illness, ridicule, or failure. In these days, poetry and all the arts fulfill an important role, the space where those lauded freedoms can be performed.

                                                                                    Cathy Downs, Ph.D.

                                                                                    Professor of English, TAMUK


Aquainted with the Night by Robert Frost

Alone by Edgar Allen Poe

Annabel Lee by Edgar Allen Poe

Apparently with No Surprise by Emily Dickinson

Because I Could not Stop for Death by Emily Dickinson

Dancy by Paul Hayward

Dear Basketball by Kobe Bryant

Death Is Nothing at All by Henry Scott-Holland

Difficult Damsels by Nikita Gill

Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night by Dylan Thomas

Don't Quit by John Greenlead Whittier

Fire and Ice by Robert Frost

From the Wave, the Way by Valerie Mejer Caso

Hymn To Beauty by Charles Baudelaire

I Loved You by Alexander Pushkin

If- by Rudyard Kipling

I'm Nobody! Who Are You? by Emily Dickinson

Invictus by William Ernest Henley

Pure by Randall Mann

Still I Rise by Maya Angelou

The Flea by John Donne

The Road not Taken by Robert Frost

The Summer Day by Mary Oliver

Written to the Tune of 'The Fisherman's Honor' by Li Qingzhou