Sylvia Plath revealed as young people's top poet

Survey also shows a rise in popularity of Instagram poets, such as Rupi Kaur, Amanda Lovelace and Lang Leav

sylvia plath

American poet Sylvia Plath has today been officially unveiled as young people's favourite poet of all time, following a survey of writers aged 11-17.

Maya Angelou and William Shakespeare are second and third favourites, according to the survey by The Poetry Society, carried out for National Poetry Day, which is today.

"The fact that 338 different poets were mentioned shows an impressive range in young people's reading habits," said Judith Palmer, director of The Poetry Society.

"What's also interesting is a reference to Instagram poets, such as Rupi Kaur, Amanda Lovelace and Lang Leav, which supports the view that many young people are being introduced to, and are following, poetry – not through the classroom, but via social media.”

Plath is known as a pioneer of “confessional poetry”, in which she spoke of trauma that eventually led to her suicide, aged 30, in 1963.

Also in the top 20 are the likes of Robert Frost, Carol Ann Duffy, Emily Dickinson, Edgar Allan Poe, John Keats, Percy Bysshe Shelley, William Blake, Wilfred Owen, William Wordsworth and TS Eliot.

In additional comments, many young people in the survey said they craved access to a wider variety of poetry in school and that this would make poetry more popular among their classmates.

One said: “Pupils need to read poetry that speaks to them about issues that they care about, written by poets that they can relate to.”

Young writers were also asked whether time should be set aside during the school day to write for pleasure, and 95 per cent said this was important.

When asked why, 51 per cent made comments about the positive wellbeing and mental health benefits of writing poetry.

One London pupil said: "It acts as a way of stepping back and offers a chance to reflect. This is vital in the increasingly stressful and ever-changing world."

Another commented: "Writing is such a helpful way to sort out what has been on your mind. Because writing is freedom and letting out your pain and emotions, which teens usually don’t get to do."

And another student said: "Knowing how to express yourself is a valuable tool for every person and for every profession, and it’s important to be able to just be creative rather than be constantly learning millions of facts."

The Poetry Society surveyed 348 young poetry enthusiasts, aged 11-17, from around the world during this summer. A total of 59 per cent of respondents lived in the UK, while the rest hailed from countries including the US, Canada, Singapore, India, Sri Lanka, South Africa and the Philippines.

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