I know, it's been a week. Yesterday, James chastised me, and indeed, I was shamed. Humbled, I cried aloud, and rent the air with my hands. Then we had breakfast and talked about James' new job. Congratulations! In any case, going along with this trend of lists, I've made my own:
Top ten writers who've inspired/demanded/tricked me into writing poetry (in no particular order):
Granted, this list is "first thought, best thought" though I've never been a fan of the beats. My entry into poetry was Neruda and Vallejo (both of whom I love, but Neruda was more of a primary influence). Chico State (my undergrad alma mater) was not too keen on contemporary poetics, experimental or otherwise (though I must thank Roger Kaye for one excellent class on Modern Poetry across the globe--that was a damn fine class (where I first read Stevens), though I never got any of my papers back...). But this was nonetheless fortuitous (did I spell that right?), as Eric Baus--a fine poet in his own right--came by for a semester and intoduced me to Nate Mackey and his book School of Udhra, and boy was I floored! Merci beaucoup Monsieur Baus! I think that Eric brought by one of Inagaki Taruho's poems as well. Taruho is probably one of my strongest influences--that guy had such a sense of style. I like to imagine Taruho and Oscar Wilde going out for drinks and smokes, and then getting into a super sexed-up fight. That rocks!
To continue: Neil Gaiman was an influence because as a young man I fancied myself "goth" and thus was obsessed, almost by obligation, with Gaiman's comic book the Sandman. Even now, I eagerly pick up any book that man writes. As such, comics came before poetry, influenced my poetics, and now I read comics poetically.
In grad school, both Elizabeth Willis and Stephen Ratcliffe were terrific influences, though I ended up with more classes and workshops from Liz, so she wins the toss-up. Liz's class on poetry and visual culture was so sweet! She also taught a prose poetry class--that was when I really got into Baudelaire (he'd probably go out with Wilde and Taruho as well). I know, it's easy to say, "oh, Baudelaire was a great influence on my writing. Indeed." But, dude, he rules! If I left him out, I know that somehow he'd haunt my ass. Maybe literally.
Jack Spicer and Fanny Howe are more recent influences. Both certainly are mystics and know that poetry is a form of magic. Which leads me to my next list: Top Ten reasons Why I Write (NPO). Which I will write later, because I went out too late last night, and now want to go home--I'm writing this from school.
But, first, here is a poem:
With a gesture, like snow falling,
you swept past our horizon. We were left
with something invisible, implied--
explanations of polytropicism and nihilist
tendencies in American cinema.
We wanted a theory of war, a narrative
involving rooks and their parliaments.
I worried that poetic theory was not enough; besides,
my fingers were growing numb, so that my glasses
could not be removed. We grew frustrated:
The landscape was only that--a far-off painting,
a scene on a forced march. We, trembling and angry,
could only move beside it.
We sat for hours, hoping to meditate,
but only falling asleep.