Way back in my undergrad days, her book Loose Woman was my first ever interaction with contemporary poetry. It opened up a whole world to me with poems like “A Man in My Bed Like Cracker Crumbs” — in 2002, I’d never seen anyone do with language what she does in that book.
Rachel is my badass heroine of the poetry world. Her voice is so unapologetic, so biting, so vulnerable, so intoxicating — I read her book 90-page book Blud in a single sitting and was left feeling empowered, but also like I’d been chewed on and had the wind knocked out of me.
José’s poetry is deeply personal, yet very connected to the world of pop culture and 21st century life. His book Citizen Illegal is a must read, and if you ever have a chance to take a class or workshop with him GO FOR IT — he’s a fabulous teacher.
Do what his Twitter bio tells you to do: Google him. He pays such meticulous attention to line breaks and form that his words stay with me long after I read them — both The New Testament and The Tradition are so good I’ve returned to them multiple times and feel more gobsmacked with each reading.
Our great-great grandchildren will read Ada Limón’s work — she’s that amazing. She has the rare ability to convey joy, pain, and awe with stunning language in perfect form AND wrap each poem up with an ending that you can taste long after you’ve swallowed it.
Megan Neville is a writer and educator based in Cleveland, Ohio. She is the author of the chapbook Rust Belt Love Song (Game Over Books), and her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Noble/Gas Qtrly, Split Rock Review, Belt Magazine, and many others. She’s also a Pisces, a sometimes-extroverted INFP, and a cat person. Picking only five poets for this #TPQ5 was traumatizing for her, because she loves many more than five.