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Learn Your Poets: Part 4

The month of April isn’t just about writing poems and taking part in Napowrimo. It is also about appreciating poetry from others and poets. I wanted to do a huge series on each poet that I knew of, including some of my favorites, but decided to break it down into smaller digestible portions.

Margaret Atwood – November 18, 1939 in Ottawa, Canada she is one of the few on the series that is still living. She is a poet, novelist, literary critic, essayist, inventor, teacher, and environmental activist. Throughout her career she has produced eighteen books of poetry, eight children’s books, two graphic novels, eleven books of non-fiction, nine collections of short fiction, eighteen novels, and several small press pieces in poetry and fiction. She is the creator of a product called LongPen. This is a device that allows anyone in the world to write with ink from a device using the internet and a robotic hand.

She is currently best known for writing the book that became the Hulu Original series Handmaiden’s Tale, but she has also had a hand in several other movies/documentaries, including but not limited to Awaiting Atwood, In the Wake of the Flood, and Yesno.

She is best known for her prose fiction and for her feminist perspective. Atwood began writing at a young age, but more seriously began writing decades later in her life after finishing her time at Victoria College at the University of Toronto. She went on with her studies completing her master’s degree in English Literature at Radcliffe College in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Her some of her most noteworthy works are Handmaiden’s Tale, The Animals in That Country, Stone Mattress, The Blind Assassin, and Payback.

Homer – The year of Homer’s birth isn’t known, but what is known is that he was born in Ionia. Ionia is located Western Anatolia, because this state existed 7th–6th centuries BC it’s safe to say Homer was born around this time frame. Professionally, Homer was known as a bard, poet, and author. He’s legendary for being the creator of two epic poems. The Iliad and the Odyssey, works that are the central works of ancient Greek literature. These two pieces are the center of a debate called The Homeric Question.

The Homeric Question covers the doubts and debate over Homer really was, if epic poems are the work of multiple poets or a single genius, and by whom, when, where, and under what circumstances were the poems composed. I recommend looking it up for yourself.

Most about Homer is lost now leaving many to believe that what was lost and what is known is of no scholarly importance.

I do not know much about Homer. I first learned about him studying Plato. Some of the information above mentioned I learned during my time in college and learned over the years after that. I don’t remember much, if anything, from before college. I could’ve easily done more due to the internet, but as this series is a ‘quick bite’ type of series to familiarize a reader and not create fully flushed out biographies I recommend doing your own research if you wish to learn more.

It is said that Homer passed in Ios, Greece.

Oscar Wilde – Is an Irish poet, author, and playwright born October 16, 1854 in Westland Row, Dublin, Ireland. Before the decline of his popularity due to his convictions he wrote many pieces that are popular today. The Picture of Dorian Gray and The Importance of Being Earnest are his best known works. Besides these two he wrote essays, short fiction, journalism, and editorship. For a period of time he was a fixture in the theatrical world. Some of his notable plays are Salome, The Importance of Being Earnest, and An Ideal Husband, just to name a few.

Outside of his work he is known for his criminal conviction for sodomy and gross indecency (homosexual acts). He spent time in prison. It’s noted that he found a ‘spiritual renewal’ and wrote a plea to the Society of Jesus requesting a six-month Catholic retreat. It wasn’t approved and continued his time in prison. His goal was to be welcomed into the Catholic Church. His time in Prison took its tole and the last years of his life he was impoverished and in exile.

Taking the name Sebastian Melmoth he wrote to the editor of the Daily Chronicle explaining the brutal conditions inside English prisons and advocating for repel reforms. This all led to an essay being written called The Soul of Man Under Socialism.

The Picture of Dorian Gray has influenced movies and television of modern time. The character Dorian Gray has made appearances in movies and television continuing the influence of Oscar Wilde.

It’s reported that his last words before his death on November 30th, 1900 were, “This wallpaper and I are fighting a duel to the death. Either it goes or I do.” He passed in Paris, France.

Percy Shelley – Percy Bysshe Shelley was born August 4, 1792 in Horsham, United Kingdom. He was English romantic poet. His career expands further than just a poet as he branched into other areas of work such as dramatist, essayist, and novelist. His best known works are The Cloud, Ode to the West Wind, Ozymandias, Music, To a Skylark, The Mask of Anarchy, and When Soft Voices Die.

Besides his work he is also known for being married to Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin, the famous horror novelist of Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus. When they married she took his last name making her the now well-known Mary Shelley. He began an affair with Mary during his marriage to Harriet Westbrook, believing she was only married to him for his money.

He is/was considered to be ahead of his time for belief of equality being a natural state.

During his time at Oxford, he wrote and essay entitled The Necessity of Atheism, in which he argued belief is involuntary and one shouldn’t be persecute someone for having beliefs that they cannot control. This essay caused him to be dismissed. Before his dismissal he was given the nickname ‘Mad Shelley’ for his prankster ways. For example, he once blew up a tree using gunpowder.

His beliefs in atheism caused him suffer the loss of custody of his own children after his ex-wife Harriet. The government justified this as ‘his lack of religion being a sign of an unfit parent’. His son, Charles, and daughter, Ianthe, were raised by foster parents instead.

He is still referred to as England’s ‘Lost Poet’.

He passed drowning in the Gulf of Spezia near Lerici, Italy, on July 8, 1822.

Following this ‘Learn Your Poets’ series, you’ll read about poets from ancient times to now. From Sappho to Atwood. This series will be of the poets I have read in my time, I am aware of, and because of this may miss some so please don’t have hurt feelings. They were not left off on purpose only if I didn’t know of them.


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