First off, I like the question because the hallmark of many of my favorite songwriters is writing lyrics that could stand alone as poetry, whether Dorothy-Parkerish clever and satirical, such as Jonathan Coulton; involved imagery and wit like Elvis Costello; or ballad-like emotions and use of repetition, such as Bonnie Raitt or Bonnie Koloc.
However, with poet as well as songwriter, it's really hard to settle on one.
For a while beginning in late high school, my favorite poet was T. S. Eliot. Now some of his poetry seems--I'm sorry--not only bleak but a little whiny, and too self-consciously profound, although I still admire his bold eclectic mythologizing and enjoy his ability to portray altered states of mind in poems like *The Four Quartets*. Then and in college I became enthralled by the poetry and plays of Federico Garcia Lorca; I stopped reading him after a few years & don't really know what my reaction would be now.
Then in graduate school my passion became more or less split among William Blake, Gerard Manley Hopkins, and 17th-century Christian/metaphysical poets such as John Donne and Thomas Traherne. All of these are quirky, with a contemplative but energetic voice, all of them both personal and transcendent in subject matter and its treatment. All of them pull meaning out of everyday experience and use metaphors no one else would ever think of or at least dare to use; all are entranced by and almost dizzying in their use of the playfulness of language.
I may be undergoing a new change, as rereading Shakespeare and Milton to teach them has impressed me in a new way. There is a solidity to them that Blake, Hopkins, and my beloved metaphysical poets probably don't have, without sacrificing inventive wordplay. Specific lines of my previously favorite poets have helped me codify, understand, and appreciate my own experience, while specific lines from Shakespeare and Milton seem to lead me into understanding other aspects of the universe and other human beings in a new way.
However--to connect this to a discussion of age in the lj of wild_irises and elsewhere--adding new favorites doesn't really displace old favorites, any more than new understanding of the world as we grow older completely erases our past selves and their understanding.
Mood: happy, chatty, lazy but that must change