There are many options if one was to choose an American poetry canon, and many famous American poets to offer a wide array of viable options. A canon is, of course, a collection or list of authors following a specific guidelines, and for an American poetry canon, American poets who have touched on the American culture and way of life are scrutinized.
Samuel L. Clemens, better known as Mark Twain, lived around the turn of the century and is perhaps one of the most famous of American authors. Mark Twain has a special spot in the American poetry canon with such poems as “The Aged Pilot Man" and “Genius" though he has gained more notoriety from his humorous novels.
A romantic poem / poetry is not difficult to find in the canon with the help of Emily Dickinson, Walt Whitman, and Ralph Waldo Emerson. Each of these romantic poets offers a deeper look into the human soul and the human experience. Whether the romantic poem is to honor lost love or to elevate a love yet to be, romantic poems are the epitome of a true American poetry canon.
Romantic poems touch the very essence of our being by giving us a shared experience. Not all romantic poets will be appropriate for everyone, but there is still something to be said of all poets.
What is it that makes a poet famous? The truth in the words, the substantial truths in the meaning, and the way the words affect the reader all make for a famous poem. Usually, a famous poet writes more than a single poem but not necessarily. There are many circumstances available in making any famous American poet, but usually the audience’s reaction to the poem is what makes for excellence.
When writing romantic poetry, the poet controls the reaction of the reader with a play of the words. Metaphors and other important syntaxes provide an ambient atmosphere for the reader often taking the reader deep into self-examination. Great poets provide an opening into the soul, and as such, the American poetry canon is a unique mix of history and dreams.