Here are 40 Interesting Poet facts.

1-5 Poet Facts

1. The concept of the “rap battle” has existed since the 5th century, where poets would engage in “flyting,” a spoken word event where poets would insult one another in verse. The Norse god Loki is noted as having insulted other gods in verse. – Source

2. Abram Petrovich Gannibal was an African child kidnapped to Russia as a gift for Peter the Great. The tsar freed him and raised him as his godson. Gannibal became a Major-General and the Governor of Reval. He is the great-grandfather of Alexander Pushkin, considered the greatest Russian poet. – Source

3. If you die in Amsterdam without any friends or family left to attend your funeral, a poet will write a poem for you and recite it at your funeral. – Source

4. The Greek poet Hipponax was so good at insulting people that his victims sometimes killed themselves. – Source

5. Surrealist poet Robert Desnos started reading palms of fellow prisoners on their way to the Nazi gas chambers. His excitement was so contagious as he predicted longevity, more children, and abundant joy that the guards were unable to go through with the executions. – Source

6-10 Poet Facts

6. In the 10th century lived Syrian poet who was attacking and rejecting Islamic (or any other religion) claims and could freely express his opinions in Arabic lands without fear of his life. In 2013, almost a thousand years after his death, a Jihadist group beheaded his statue. – Source

7. German-Jewish poet Heinrich Heine once wrote in a play from 1821, “Wherever they burn books, in the end, will also burn human beings.” Over a century later, copies of Heine’s books were among the many burned in Berlin’s Opernplatz. – Source

8. An ancient Persian poet recorded the fable of a King who challenged wise men to make him a ring that would make him both happy when he was sad and sad when he was happy. They succeeded by giving him a ring etched with the phrase “This Too Shall Pass.” – Source

9. Actor James Stewart was also a poet. Once, while on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, he read a poem called “Beau” that he had written about his dog. By the end, Carson had started crying. – Source

10. The term “Lesbian” stems from the Ancient Greek poet Sappho of Lesbos who lived from 620-570 BCE. Her poetry portrays homoerotic feelings and she wrote over 10,000 lines of poetry. However, even though her works were widely known only 650 lines survive today. – Source

11-15 Poet Facts

11. The influential American poet Walt Whitman’s collection of poetry, “Leaves of Grass”, was so controversial, that when first published in 1855 for its reference to open sexuality & homosexuality a major literary weekly publication recommended in its review that Whitman kills himself. – Source

12. French poet Gérard de Nerval took a lobster on walks in the Palais Royal gardens in Paris on the end of a blue silk ribbon, saying “they are peaceful, serious creatures. They know the secrets of the sea, they don’t bark, and they don’t gnaw upon one’s monadic privacy like dogs do.” – Source

13. Poet Stanislaw Jerzy Lec survived a German concentration camp by killing his guard with a shovel that was given to him to dig his own grave and then escaping in the guard’s uniform. – Source

14. The words at the base of the Statue of Liberty – “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free” are by Jewish-American poet Emma Lazarus, from her poem “The New Colossus.” The quote was added to the pedestal 17 years after her death. – Source

15. Poet Carl Sandburg, when attempting to visit a high school in Illinois that was named after him, was mistaken for a hobo and ordered to leave the premises. – Source

16-20 Poet Facts

16. Su Hui, a fourth-century Chinese poet, wrote a poem in the form of a twenty-nine by twenty-nine character grid. Each line can be read forward or backward, horizontally, vertically, or diagonally. This arrangement allows for 2,848 different readings. – Source

17. Children’s poet Shel Silverstein wrote many outlaw country songs, such as A Boy Named Sue. – Source

18. The Romantic Era, English poet Lord Byron had a pet bear while he attended Cambridge, in protest of the school’s rule on no dogs. There was no rule forbidding bears. – Source

19. The Roman poet Catullus’ Carmen 16 was censored until the 20th century for beginning with the line Pedicabo ego Vos et irrumabo (“I will sodomize you and face-f**k you”). – Source

20. In 2 AD, the Roman poet Ovid published a series of poems that taught men relationship advice such as “‘not forgetting her birthday” and “not asking about her age”. – Source

21-25 Poet Facts

21. American poet and activist Alice Dunbar Nelson was rejected by both the white and the black society because white people found she was “too black” and black people found she was “too white”. – Source

22. William McGonagall, notorious as an extremely bad poet, was said to be “so giftedly bad he backed unwittingly into genius”. – Source

23. Percy Bysshe Shelley, the famous romantic poet and husband of Mary Shelley, the author of Frankenstein, was expelled from Oxford in 1811 due to his publication and distribution of the pamphlet called “The Necessity of Atheism”. – Source

24. There was a Canadian poet who wrote almost entirely about cheese. He is widely considered to be one of the worst poets ever. – Source

25. Poet Conrad Aiken had his tombstone be in the shape of a park bench so that poetry lovers could sit there and enjoy a drink or two. – Source

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Last Update: May 14, 2020