Saturday, May 14, 2011

120 Influences, Part 3: Poets

  1. Billy Collins: He is known for his humor, but he is also a great speaker, reader, and educator.

  2. e. e. cummings: Quirky structure, yes. Small themes, indeed. But what a master of simplicity and observer of human nature.

  3. Emily Dickinson: Sudden, lyrical, unconventional: a true American poet.

  4. John Donne: This seventeenth century British poet and essayist is peerless. "Devotions upon Emergent Occasions" are as close to Scripture as a writer can get.

  5. T. S. Eliot: His "The Waste Land" and "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" transformed English poetry and for decades set the standard for the literature that followed.

  6. Robert Frost: He is deserving of all the accolades. His quality remained high through all his volumes of verse.

  7. Allen Ginsberg: "A Supermarket in California," "Sunflower Sutra," and especially "Howl" are classics of the latter half of the twentieth century.

  8. Pablo Neruda: Mystical, magical, stunning, life-affirming. Read "Ode to Ironing" and "The Dawn's Debility"; then read them all.

  9. Theodore Roethke: Start with "The Waking," "In a Dark Time," and "I Knew a Woman." Roethke is to poetry what Thelonious Monk is to jazz.

  10. Robert Penn Warren: I could have listed Warren as one of my top novelists, essayists, and educators, but his poetry has touched me most. Metaphysical, imaginative, pure.