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In 2006 The New York Times asked 125 notable readers to name the best work of fiction published during the previous 25 years. Prospect asks its readers to participate in a poll naming leading thinkers. The Vassar Quarterly has contemplated sending out a readership/viewership survey to Vassar graduates.

Such publications could ask their contributors to name the contemporary poets they admire. Poets are typically appraised and honored by their peers and other interested parties. The preferences of disinterested judges should also be widely known and discussed. Contributors would be asked to exclude any poets they know personally.

The choices of such unbiased readers could initiate a debate over who should have the last word about poetry. At a time when their cultural standing is uncertain, poets should be pleased to have their worth independently confirmed.

Survey respondents could be asked to serve as poetry prize judges and short-term poetry editors. They might choose poems for anthologies and recommend poets to publishers.

As representatives of a significant audience, scientists, artists, prose writers and political figures who reportedly read poetry, like those listed below, could also be asked to name contemporary poets.

A survey conducted jointly by The New York Times and The Guardian or by other major US and UK publications could produce an impartial, wide-ranging and influential guide to contemporary poetry.



J.J. Abrams, Joan Acocella, Boris Akunin, Martin Amis, Laurie Anderson, Peter Arkle, Timothy Garton Ash, Janet Asimov, Madeleine Avirov, Richard Axel

Nicholson Baker, John Banville, David P. Barash, Patricia Barber, Julian Barnes, Lynda Barry, Emily Barton, Simon Russell Beale, Sean Bean, Kate Bernheimer, Carl Berstein, Paul Bettany, Joseph Biden, Hugh Bonneville, William Boyd, Jerry Boyle, Scott Bradfield, Melvyn Bragg, Kenneth Branagh, Alfred Brendel, Christopher Buckley, Andy Burnham, Ken Burns

Simon Callow, John Carey, Robert Caro, Graydon Carter, Neko Case, Michael Chabon, Bill Clinton, Ta-Nehisi Coates, J. M. Coetzee, Rachel Cohen, Stephen Colbert, Chris Cooper, Holland Cotter, Alan Cumming, Michael Cunningham, James Cuno, Richard Curtis

Richard Dawkins, Jonathan Demme, David Denby, Junot Diaz, Anthony Doerr, Christopher Durang, Lena Durham

David Edgar, Mark Edmundson, Daniel Ellsberg, Harold Evans, Richard Eyre

Richard Falk, Sebastian Faulks, Julian Fellowes, Elena Ferrante, Colin Firth, Helen Fisher, Robert Fisk, Gillian Flynn, Jonathan Safran Foer, Ken Follett, Richard Ford, Marc Forster, Richard Fortey, Mary Frank, Jonathan Franzen, Leopold Froehlich, Stephen Fry

Henry Louis Gates Jr., Maggie Gee, Terry George, Philip Glass, Victoria Glendinning, Mary Gordon, Vivian Gornick, Ira Glass, John Gray, A. C. Grayling, John Green, John Guare, Agnes Gund

Mohain Hamid, Daniel Handler, David Hare, Chris Hedges, Aleksander Hemon, Kathleen Herbert, Tom Hiddleston, Jolie Holland, Jim Holt, Nick Hornby, Barry Humphries

Jeremy Irons

Howard Jacobson, Xeni Jardin, Ricky Jay, James Earl Jones

Uer Kaixi, Anish Kapoor, Bill Keller, Douglas Kennedy, Joe Klein, Roger Kimball, Stephen King, Elizabeth Kolbert, Benjamin Kunkel, Hanif Kureishi, Tony Kushner, David Kynaston

Neil LaBute, Jhumpa Lahiri, Lewis Lapham, John le Carre, Mike Leigh, Ernie Lepore, Jonathan Lethem, Michael Lewis, Maya Lin, John Lithgow, Ken Loach, Kenneth Lonergan

Alexander McCall Smith, Colum McCann, David McVicar, Patrick Marber, Ben Marcus, Brice Marden, Javier Marias, Wynton Marsalis, Ian McEwan, Iain McGilchrist, Charles McGrath, Simon McBurney, Louis Menand, Daniel Mendelsohn, Juan Mendez, Stephen Merritt, Karl Miller, David Mills, Pankaj Mishra, Phillippe de Montebello, Mark Morris, Samantha Morton, Benjamin Moser, Walter Mosley, Bill Murray

Sheila Nevins, Suzanne Nosel, Chris Noth

Barack Obama, Michelle Obama, Andrew O'Hagan, Joseph O'Neill

George Packer, Camille Paglia, Mary-Louise Parker, Christina Patterson, Michaelanne Petralla, Steven Pinker, Samantha Power, Laure Prouvost, David Puttnam

Daniel Radcliffe, Archie Rand, Steve Reich, David Remnick, Frank Rich, Tim Robbins, Marilynne Robinson, Ned Rorem, Alex Ross, Norman Rush, Salman Rushdie

Walter Salles, Clare Sambrook, Alexie Sayle, Elaine Scarry, Simon Schama, Peter Sellars, Fiona Shaw, Ira Sher, Salil Shetty, John Simon, Mark Slouka, Ali Smith, Bridget Smith, Zadie Smith, Andrew Soloman, Wole Soyinka, Gloria Steinem, Patrick Stewart, Amy Stolls, Tom Stoppard, Meryl Streep, John Sutherland

Donna Tartt, Lili Taylor, Colm Tóibín, Stanley Tucci

Harold Varmus

Erica Wagner, Ayelet Waldman, Marina Warner, Warren S. Warren, John Waters, Sam Waterston, Steven Weinberg, Samuel West, Wendy Whelan, Colson Whitehead, Dianne Wiest, Garry Wills, A. N. Wilson, Rainn Wilson, Simon Winchester, Jeanette Winterson, Tobias Wolff, James Woods, Jacqueline Woodson, Joe Wright, Nicholas Wroe

Stephen Ziliak

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