What Contemporary Poet You Should Read Based on Your Zodiac Sign

We all know that the alignment of the planet at the time of your birth determines the course of your career, romantic taste, and basically everything else. But what about your poetic moods?

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Aries (March 21 - April 19): Terrance Hayes

The sign of Aries, ruled by Mars and marked by the element of Fire, is known for being courageous and bold. In the current political climate, Aries is particularly suited to activism and speaking out for what they believe is right. No contemporary poet better represents the characteristic of the firey Aries than Terrance Hayes, who performed at the 2018 New York City Poetry Festival. Hayes’ 2018 poetry collection, American Sonnets for my Past and Future Assassin, examines Trump-era America not as an outlier, but as part of a long history of American inequality. True to its title, the collection is entirely comprised of sonnets. However, Hayes masterfully turns the traditional fourteen liners into a reversal of their strict conservatism, as he employs simple yet active language to address Trump, racism, and violence.

Taurus (April 20 - May 20): Robert Pinsky

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The reliable Taurus is grounded both in their thoughts and in their actions. At age 78, Robert Pinsky, who has written over nineteen books, is a clear representation of Taurus dedication. Pinsky may be the oldest poet on this list, but his energy and commitment is constantly renewing. He has served as United States Poet Laureate, and published countless works for which he has won numerous awards and accolades. Pinsky’s poetry often carries a steady Taurus tone, with punctuated sentence patterns and syncopated line breaks. These firm, continuing beats guide the reader through his messages from life, about life, for life. Pinsky was also a headliner at the 2019 New York City Poetry Festival.

Gemini (May 21 - June 20): Tina Chang

Geminis are known for their excellent ability to tune in with their different identities. In Brooklyn Poet Laureate Tina Chang’s 2019  collection, Hybrida, she explores the issue of mixed identities — hybrids — through both content and form. As an Asian-American mother to a black son, Chang delves into the push and pulls of race, sex, and motherhood. Her poems examine questions of voice quite literally, narrated by different voices and written in different styles. 

Cancer (June 21 - July 22): Ocean Vuong

Cancers are concerned with emotion, connection, and family. With their intuitive minds, Cancers will love Ocean Vuong’s deeply intimate and authentic works. Vuong’s highly acclaimed 2016 collection, Night Sky with Exit Wounds, examines love and self-love amidst displacement, and as the title suggests, the lasting trauma of exile. His 2019 stylized novel, On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous, a rumination on his language barriers with his mother, will tear at the heartstrings of every Cancer. No matter the subject matter, Vuoung’s voice remains emotionally perceptive, lyrically precise, and deeply poignant.

Leo (July 23 - August 22): Aracelis Girmay

Being royalty, Leos will love Aracelis Girmay’s Kingdom Animalia. Girmay’s grounded, deeply expressive work examines our place in the natural world. Creatives born under this sign will love Girmay’s imaginative works such as “Self-Portrait as the Snail,” “Self-Portrait as the Snake.” She not only turns herself into an animal, but brings to life inanimate objects and concepts, as well, expressing people and their motivations through the three principles that govern all animal needs: hunger/desire, and death. As “Elegy” puts it: “Listen to me. I am telling you/ a true thing. This is the only kingdom./ The kingdom of touching;/ the touches of the disappearing, things.” Leos will appreciate it as Girmay warmly leads us through the world in which lions are king. 

Virgo (August 23 - September 22): Natasha Tretheway 

Virgos are kind and hardworking, a combination that they channel into caretaking and nurturing. Former US Poet Laureate and Pulitzer-Prize winner Natasha Tretheway puts this care into her poetry and her celebration of others before her. Tretheway’s lines and stanzas reflect the organized nature of Virgos. She orders her poetry into distinct couplets or quatrains, creating a rhythmic and grounded atmosphere. Her 2018 collection, Monument, is a testament to centuries of unrecorded black history, unsung black heroes, and unmentioned black culture. Her collection becomes their monument, as she eulogizes past and present struggles of black Americans, though not without joy.

Libra (September 23 - October 22): Claudia Rankine

Libras love balance and fairness, both in the small events of everyday life, and in larger issues concerning the world. Claudia Rankine exercises Libra grace in her brave, expressive writings about discrimination. Her 2014 book, Citizen: An American Lyric, a finalist for the National Book Award, examines black identity and race relations in America. In her work, she combines traditional poetry with art, heavy line breaks and unusual punctuation, as she balances the scales of text and blank space.

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Scorpio (October 23 - November 21): Jericho Brown

Scorpios are expressive and emotional, brave and assertive, and above all value honesty. Jericho Brown’s electrifying work is not afraid of confronting truths. His newest collection, The Tradition, examines both wide political issues and inner personal conflicts. Brown defies the titular tradition by circumventing it with his deeply honest, startling poetry. His innovative writing stems from mythical roots and other traditional imagery, which he employs both as history and parody. Jericho Brown headlined the 2016 New York City Poetry Festival and was also spotted out there in 2019 hanging out with Chen Chen (our recommendation below for all you Capricorns!).

Sagittarius (November 22 - December 21): Tracy K. Smith

The fearless explorers under Sagittarius will love traveling all the way off the planet in Tracy K. Smith’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Life on Mars. Tracy K. Smith is currently serving as the Poet Laureate of the United States. Smith’s work often mixes modernity and poetic traditions, science fiction and history, to underscore truths about human nature. 

Capricorn (December 22 - January 19): Chen Chen

Capricorns rely on structure and long-term planning, asking themselves from a young age what they want to be when they grow up. Chen Chen answers this question in his 2018 collection, When I Grow Up I Want to be a List of Further Possibilities. His lovely, open-ended discussions of love and self-actualization are sure to assuage Capricorn fears of narrow career paths to success. The extreme honesty with which Chen Chen tackles questions of self helps create deeply authentic, witty, moving, poignant, charming stories. Chen Chen was a headliner of the New York City Poetry Festival in 2019 and also a participant in the first even Milk Press Happening.

Aquarius (January 20 - February 18): Cathy Park Hong

The original Aquarius deserves some original writing. Many contemporary poets could produce this novelty, but one of the most unconventional poets is the whimsical Cathy Park Hong. Cathy Park Hong challenges literary foundations by playing with punctuation, words, and letters. The musical Aquarius will love her imaginative rhythms, slant rhymes, and exclamation marks. Check out “Ballad in A,” for an extreme example, where Cathy Park Hong uses the same dozen words to create an extensive poem. Despite — or because of — her witticisms, many of her pieces are deeply meaningful. Her works will cause mixtures of amusement and contemplation, as she uses humor and wordplay to reveal the cores of current issues.

Pisces (February 19 - March 20): Morgan Parker

Pisces are imaginative, artistic, and intuitive. With their natural creativity any Pisces would love the work of Morgan Parker. Parker often plays with the structure of lines on a page, creating visual art with her words, and her rhythmic patterns would have the musical Pisces speaking the words out along with her. Her 2017 collection, There are More Beautiful Things than Beyoncé, is both funny and wise. including a list poem titled “99 Problems” and a piece named “It’s Getting Hot in Here So Take Off All Your Clothes.” Her clever titles and unusual styles do not detract from her important message. Parker fiercely illuminates the experience of black women in America, her daring humor confronting what has no punchline: the unbelievable, the extreme, the all-too-real.