I've just sent my thoughts on Norm's Poets in English poll to him. Look here for further information on the poll and the original call for poets.
Its a semi-considered list and its not intended to be definitive because I'm not sure I have favourites above all else. Like music, poetry is tied to the soul and offers different kinds of comfort at different moments. When I want ascerbic humour, nothing beats Dorothy Parker; when I want something witty and insightful I love Eleanor Brown; when I want to 'hear' the poetry in my head, I like Liz Lochhead...
hmm, so many women... William Blake for comment on religion and society, the Mersey poets for a 1960s feel, e.e. cummings for being an early joint favourite of me and Cloud, and of course the current poet of the moment, Mr Robert Allen Zimmerman...
Anyway, my final choices are:
Elizabeth Barett Browning: for conveying love and narrative so beautifully
Emily Dickinson: for the beauty and elaborate simplicity of her language and her writing style
WH Auden: for being one of the first poets who moved me
PB Shelley: for bringing a poets voice to politics
If I REALLY have to drop to 3, I'll have to take Auden out... sniff.