As Chris noted earlier this morning, today is Poem in Your Pocket Day. The rules are simple enough, but I may need a bigger pocket. For one thing, I can’t make up my mind as to what my favorite poem is. And second, I have this bad tendency toward long poems.
The wall on my office at work features portraits of four great poets: TS Eliot, William Butler Yeats, Dylan Thomas and Charles Wright. I love writers like Shakespeare (duh) and Blake and Donne and Arnold, to name a few, but these four are my favorites. It follows, then, that one of them is potentially responsible for my favorite poem, right?
Here are the candidates:
Eliot: “The Waste Land”: Many students have had this heavy, dark master work forced upon them, and experience tells me that most didn’t appreciate it. However, the poet in me has never shaken the influence it exerted. Even today, a good 30+ years after my first encounter with the Unreal City, it’s hard for me to write without being powerfully conscious of Eliot’s presence. Read more
…and win a prize!
Recently I was moving into my new office and decided to do something at least a little interesting on my walls. First I put these together – artistic treatments of my four favorite poets: Eliot, Yeats, Thomas and Charles Wright, who is probably our greatest living versificationist. Read more
“I’m interested in what motivates you, and how you understand the world.” He glanced sideways at her. “Rausch tells me you’ve written about music.”
“Sixties garage bands. I started writing about them when I was still in the Curfew.””Were they an inspiration?”
She was watching a fourteen-inch display on the Maybach’s dash, the red cursor that was the car proceeding along the green line that was Sunset. She looked up at him. “Not in any linear way, musically. They were my favorite bands. Are,” she corrected herself.
– William Gibson, Spook Country
I’ve always been intrigued by the curious dynamic of influence. Read more
[An artist] should copy the masters and re-copy them, and after he has given every evidence of being a good copyist, he might then reasonably be allowed to do a radish, perhaps, from Nature. – Edgar Degas
I went to see the “Inspiring Impressionism” exhibit yesterday at the Denver Art Museum and came away struck by how remarkably it addressed questions of influence and originality in art, issues that have long been central to my own thinking and writing. As a poet, I’ve long been aware of the debt I owe the masters whose genius has shaped my own work, and if my efforts pale in comparison, they’re at least less meager than they would have been had I not spent so much time in the company of Donne, Shakespeare, Yeats, Hopkins, Wright, Thomas, and perhaps most especially, Eliot. Read more