Thursday, March 24, 2005

What Inspires My Poetry

Recently I have been reading a book about poetry by Kenneth Koch, Making Your Own Days: The Pleasures of Reading and Writing Poetry. In one section, he writes about what inspires poets to write and what inspires the content of their poetry. He gives several examples, including particular seasons, everyday conversation, certain kinds of words, and the innovations of other poets. I too have noticed that certain specific things inspire me repeatedly, so I thought I would make a list.

  • The poetry of the following poets: Rumi as reinterpreted by Coleman Barks, T.S. Eliot, Carolyn Forche’, Thomas Kinsella, Seamus Heaney, Jane Kenyon, Rodney Jones, Walt Whitman, Marilyn Hacker, Carol Anne Duffy, and others.

  • Crisis in my life or in the lives of my friends. (Not that I’m wishing ill on anyone else or myself!)

  • Literal stormy weather and heavy rain.

  • The passion and advice of my professors: Bob Waugh, Carley Bogarad, Jan Z. Schmidt, H.R. Stoneback, and Edward Brunner.

  • Lyrics by particular rock and progressive rock artists: Marillion, Fish, Genesis, Peter Gabriel, Phil Collins, U2, and others.

  • Discussions about writing with friends who are passionate about writing: John Langan, Dawn Pendergast, Mildred Greear, Tracey Gagne, David Oates, Steven Shields, Bonnie Rude, John Bush, Jim Gilchriest . . . to name a few. (If I neglected to mention someone, I’m very, very sorry! You are all so important to me!)

  • Bible stories and biblical imagery.

  • My audience, that small group of people who are sincerely interested in anything I might write: my Mom, Christi, Mildred, Sally, Maria, David, Todd and Laura, and a few others. (Let me know if you are one of these! I can always use more on this list.)

  • Oceanic and aquatic creatures.

  • Pop culture icons: I Love Lucy, Warner Brothers & Hanna-Barbara cartoon characters, Kiss, superheroes, and many others.

  • The women to whom I‘ve been attracted. (There’s no denying it!)

  • Remembered daydreams of writing poetry and novels while I was an undergraduate student at S.U.N.Y. New Paltz. Sometimes I try to put myself in a “New Paltz state of mind”. It was there that I first formed my ideas about what a poem IS. Part of that formation came from listening to other poets read their work aloud at the President’s Guest House readings: Chad Roche, John Burdick, John Langan, Lauren Athanas, Gail Vorbach, Bob Singleton, Bob Waugh, Arthur Josephs, Pey Pey Oh, Kevan Stoffel, Tim Healy, Danny Rzetelny, and others. (Again deep apologies to anyone I forgot to list!)

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