It's National Poetry Month, the perfect moment to celebrate the bards and bardesses of the past and present, a surprising number of whom just happen to have been born with birth-certificate-ready surnames. In addition to those below, there are other great choices like Auden, Eliot and Emerson, Lowell, Millay, Nash, Owen, Poe, Reese and Schuyler -- but Nameberry thinks these are the twelve best for now.
Louise Bogan was the fourth Poet Laureate of the United States and the first woman to be appointed to that position, appreciated for her subtle intellectual style. Bogan could be a perfectly acceptable companion to boy named Brogan, Logan and Hogan--though Bogan does have some negative connotations in Australian slang.
George Gordon Byron, known simply as Lord Byron, was a (if not the) leading Romantic poet of the late eighteenth to early nineteenth century, with the term 'byronic' coming to connote romanticism, melancholy and melodrama. The name Byron still retains something of the poet's dramatic, windswept image.
Geoffrey Chaucer is regarded as the greatest literary figure of medieval England, the father of all the literature that followed. An unusual English occupational name -- it means "maker of leggings"-- Chaucer has a particularly pleasing sound and is beginning to stir up some interest among knowledgeable parents.
Countee Cullen was one of the key poetic voice of the Harlem Renaissance. Although his first name is semi-unique, the surname Cullen is one of the hot Irish boys' names, propelled by its appearance as the family name of key character Edward in the "Twilight" series of books and movies. Cullen now ranks at an all-time high of Number 413.
Rita Dove is a major contemporary American poet, winner of a Pulitzer Prize and Poet Laureate of the United States from 1993 to 1995. The name Dove is one of several soft and gentle bird names, including Wren and Lark, that have become a fledgling category--as opposed to more aggressive avian choices like Hawk and Falcon.
John Dryden was a highly influential seventeenth century English poet in what came to be called "The Age of Dryden." Dryden is a name that could blend well with all the Ryders and Brydens in the playground, with its poetic cred adding a subtle support.
Robert Frost is the acclaimed poet who famously read his work at the 1961 Inauguration of President Kennedy. Frost, Snow, Winter, January... these are all among the coolest current choices, and the literary tie to the esteemed poet makes Frost all the more appealing.
Nikki Giovanni (born Yolande Cornelia) is a contemporary African-American poet and civil rights activist whose work reflects strong racial pride. Giovanni, the ubiquitous Italian version of John, now ranks at an all-time high of Number 114 in the US, indicating that its one of the Latin names catching on among Anglos, much like Matteo and Gianna.
Victor Hugo, the author of "Les Miserables" and "The Hunchback of Notre Dame," first found fame as a poet. Hugo is a rising o-ending name for boys here, and also in Spain and France, where it's in the Top 10. Hugo was the name chosen by Ron and Hermione for their "Harry Potter" franchise son, and it is the hero and title of the latest Martin Scorsese 3-D film.
Rudyard Kipling was a memorable poet (<em>Gunga Din, Recessional</em>), as well as the author of "The Jungle Book" and "Kim." When actress Kim Raver (the Kim connection?) named her son Leo Kipling in 2007, it put this evocative yet quirky name on the table.
Federico Garcia Lorca was an early twentieth century poet and playwright, a tragic casualty of the Spanish civil war. He was a favorite of fellow poet Leonard Cohen, who named his now grown daughter Lorca in his honor, thereby introducing it as a lovely new girls' name possibility.
Christopher Marlowe was a pre-Shakespeare poet and playwright at the forefront of the sixteenth century drama renaissance. And of the three possible spellings of the name -- Marlo, Marlow, Marlowe -- Marlowe seems to be the current winner, and used primarily for girls; Jason Schwartzman named his baby girl Marlowe Rivers. It's a perfect smoosh of Marley and Harlow.
Octavio Paz was a leading Mexican poet and polemicist, who has been called "Latin America's most scintillating poet." Meaning peace, Paz is a Spanish unisex favorite, and is currently represented on the international screen by two attractive actresses: Paz Vega and Paz de la Huerta.
Alfred Lord Tennyson was one of the most popular English poets of all time, the Poet Laureate throughout most of Queen Victoria's reign. Russell Crowe made the bold choice of Tennyson as the name of his first son, and you have only to hear the brawny actor speak tenderly of "Tenny" to see the great charm of the name.
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