Who do you read?

There are people who want to write poetry.  They are quite willing to tell me so, especially when they know I write poetry and have been published.  My first question to them is often “Who do you read?”  You won’t be surprised (I never am) when they answer, “Well, I don’t actually read much poetry” or some similar (or even worse) answer.  I, at that point, generally steer the conversation elsewhere.  So, is it a requirement that you read poetry in order to write poetry?  I don’t know.  I only know that my own work gets better, opens up, and is stimulated by the work of others. 

To give poetry non-readers the benefit of the doubt, perhaps they just haven’t stumbled across a poet they like.  Their exposure to date has been limited.  Maybe they just gave up at some point, not realizing what a vast and wealthy range of work is out there.  I just bought The Penguin Anthology of 20th American Poetry, edited by Rita Dove.  Including nearly 200 poets, but with short entries (often no more than one poem) for each, it’s a sampler in which almost anyone can find some poet who appeals to him or her.  At least I hope so.  Dove was not able to include every major poet (she mentions Plath and Ginsberg), so I can accept her not including Bukowsky.  But for someone, aspiring poet or not, who doesn’t read much poetry but wants to, this book is a great place to start browsing.  I look forward to finding new people myself.  Me?  Frost, Larkin, Timothy Steele, Bukowski, Billy Collins, Rhina P. Espaillat and many, many more.

About Lida Bushloper

writer and poet
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4 Responses to Who do you read?

  1. Pingback: Music, Poetry and the Arts | Karoo Publishers

  2. Pingback: Bukowski’s Poem About Poets « difficult degrees

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