Who is The Best Canadian Poet?

by Amy
Charles Bukowski

Canadian poetry boasts a rich and diverse tradition that has made significant contributions to the global literary landscape. From the early colonial period to the present day, Canadian poets have captured the essence of the Canadian experience, exploring themes of identity, nature, history, and culture. The Canadian poetry scene has evolved over time, reflecting the country’s multiculturalism, linguistic diversity, and regional differences.

Notable Canadian Poets

In examining the question of who is the best Canadian poet, it is essential to highlight a selection of poets who are widely regarded as among the finest in Canada. This list encompasses both historical figures and contemporary voices, representing diverse styles, themes, and regions.

Margaret Atwood (1939 – )

Margaret Atwood is one of Canada’s most celebrated writers, known for her prolific output across various genres, including poetry, fiction, and essays. Born in Ottawa, Ontario, Atwood’s poetry often explores themes of feminism, environmentalism, and the human condition. Her collections, such as “The Circle Game” (1966) and “The Handmaid’s Tale” (1985), have garnered widespread critical acclaim and have been translated into numerous languages. Atwood’s impact on Canadian literature and culture is profound, as her works continue to resonate with readers worldwide.Sample Poem,Excerpt from “You Fit into Me”:

You fit into me
like a hook into an eye

A fish hook
An open eye

Impact and Legacy: Atwood’s influence on Canadian literature is immeasurable, as she has inspired countless writers and readers with her incisive observations and powerful storytelling. Her exploration of feminist themes and dystopian futures has shaped the literary landscape not only in Canada but also internationally.

Leonard Cohen (1934 – 2016)

Leonard Cohen was a multifaceted artist whose talents spanned poetry, music, and literature. Born in Montreal, Quebec, Cohen is best known for his iconic songwriting and distinctive voice, but his poetry also holds a prominent place in Canadian letters. His collection “Book of Longing” (2006) showcases his mastery of language and his profound insights into the human condition. Cohen’s poetic works, often infused with themes of love, spirituality, and mortality, continue to resonate with audiences worldwide.Sample Poem, Excerpt from “Suzanne”:

And you know that she’s half-crazy
But that’s why you want to be there
And she feeds you tea and oranges
That come all the way from China

Impact and Legacy: Cohen’s impact on Canadian poetry and music is undeniable, as his evocative lyrics and haunting melodies have left an indelible mark on popular culture. His exploration of existential themes and his ability to convey profound emotions through his poetry have inspired generations of artists and writers.

E. Pauline Johnson (1861 – 1913)

E. Pauline Johnson, also known as Tekahionwake, was a Canadian poet of Mohawk and English descent who gained fame for her performances of Indigenous poetry and her advocacy for Indigenous rights. Born in Ontario, Johnson’s poetry reflects her dual heritage and her deep connection to nature. Her collection “Flint and Feather” (1912) showcases her lyrical style and her celebration of Indigenous culture. Johnson’s legacy as one of Canada’s first Indigenous poets continues to inspire Indigenous writers and activists today.Sample Poem, Excerpt from “The Song My Paddle Sings”:

West wind, blow from your prairie nest,
Blow from the mountains, blow from the west
The sail is idle, the sailor too;
O! wind of the west, we wait for you.

Impact and Legacy: Johnson’s contributions to Canadian literature and Indigenous rights are significant, as she used her poetry to raise awareness of Indigenous culture and to challenge stereotypes and prejudices. Her advocacy for Indigenous rights paved the way for future generations of Indigenous writers to share their stories and perspectives.


In conclusion, the question of who is the best Canadian poet is subjective and open to interpretation. However, the poets highlighted in this essay—Margaret Atwood, Leonard Cohen, and E. Pauline Johnson—represent a small sample of the many talented writers who have shaped Canadian poetry and left a lasting impact on literature and culture. Their works continue to inspire and resonate with readers around the world, ensuring their place among the best Canadian poets of all time.

FAQs about Poet:

1. Who is the famous poet in Canada?

The famous poets in Canada vary depending on personal taste, historical context, and cultural significance. Some widely acclaimed Canadian poets include Margaret Atwood, Leonard Cohen, E. Pauline Johnson, and Al Purdy, among others. Their works have made significant contributions to Canadian literature and have garnered international recognition.

2. Who was the first Canadian poet?

The first recognized Canadian poet is often attributed to Étienne de la Boétie (1548–1563), a French Canadian poet who wrote during the early colonial period. However, the title of the “first Canadian poet” can be contested due to the complex history of Indigenous oral traditions and the presence of Indigenous poets long before European colonization.

3. What is a Canadian poem?

A Canadian poem is a piece of poetry that is written by a Canadian author or is inspired by Canadian themes, landscapes, culture, or experiences. Canadian poems often reflect the diverse linguistic, cultural, and regional identities of Canada, exploring topics such as nature, identity, history, multiculturalism, and social issues.

4. Who was the Canadian poet from 1944 to 1988?

From 1944 to 1988, Canadian poetry experienced significant growth and evolution, with numerous poets making noteworthy contributions to the literary landscape. Some prominent Canadian poets during this period include Irving Layton, Margaret Avison, Al Purdy, P.K. Page, Dorothy Livesay, and Milton Acorn, among others. Their works reflect the social, political, and cultural developments of their time and have left a lasting impact on Canadian literature.


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