Richard Lopez has taggd me again. this time it's the 10 most influential books which gave birth to our personal poetics. & again I demur.
in high school my notion of poetry was antique. I memorizd Shakespeare's sonnets. I found Keats & Byron to be standards to which we were to aspire. then came some discoveries. it gets a bit foggy now that I'm approaching the forgetful era of my life. I can no longer tell you when I read Leaves of Grass but it had to have put some step into my blue suede shoes. & since Sherwood Anderson once had a paint factory in my town I also read his Whitman knockoffs Mid American Chants. & the first major poetry reading I went to was by another who emulatd Whitman -- Carl Sandburg.
but probably the first book I read in high school of contemporary poetry that slappd my face was A Coney Island of the Mind. serious poets today don't seem to admit having ever read the book. but to me in my teens it was as important as Catcher in the Rye was as fiction.
in college I fell in love with Hart Crane & Marianne Moore. then came the summer of 1963. I went to NYC to become a student of Kenneth Koch for a couple of weeks. I discoverd Donald Allen's The New American Poetry 1945-1960. & so I began reading Ginsberg & O'Hara & Broughton & Williams & Snyder & Corso & Field. then early in 1965 I met d.a. levy.
by grad school I had to turn out a thesis in order to graduate. that last summer I threw together a truly awful piece of work on Robert Lowell. altho I haven't read him in some years his Life Studies was important to me then. I had more passion for O'Hara but Lowell was safer & I had a teaching fellowship to accept & had to churn out something quickly. it's such an embarrassment to me I don't even have a copy.
so those are some of the books & poets who matterd. somewhere along the way film & art became as important to my poetics as poetry. but then I'm not an intellectual & even tho I was involvd for years at a university I don't consider myself to have ever been an academic. no one reads me seriously so I haven't had to deal with discussing these matters. I just keep reading who I want to read & writing what I want to write.