Background Article in the Dictionary of Literary Biography: American Poets Since World War II (Sixth Series) Conte, Joseph, Ed., Detroit: Gale Research Press, 1998.
20th C American Poetry - An Overview
Major movements and schools of 20th century American poetry
popular modernism | high modernism | objectivist poetics | Harlem Renaissance | formalist poets | confessional poetry |the Black Mountain poets |Beats and San Francisco Renaissance | the New York School | L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E poetry | "deep image"- neo-surrealist poetry | projectivism | The Black Arts Movement | Expansive/Neo-formalist poetry |new narrative poetry| ecopoetry
Confessional Poetry see: Middlebrook, Diane Wood. What was Confessional Poetry?. New York: Columbia University Press, 1993.
"Deep Image" Poetry see: Selections from Robert Bly, Leaping Poetry an Idea with Poems and Translations. Boston: Beacon Press, 1972.
Haskell, Dennis. "The Modern American Poetry of Deep Image." Southern Review [Australia] 12 (1979): 137-166.
The Poets of the New York School by John Bernard Myers (Philadelphia: The University
of Pennsylvania, 1969
NOTE: Poets listed alphabetically in UPPER CASE / blue font pared with their influences below in lower case / red font. Follow links to biographical information, interviews, and work for each poet. There are those poets in UPPER CASE / blue font for whom there is no influence indicated. If you wish to conduct research on one of these poets and an influence you can identify, please feel free to do so. This list is continually under construction, and, while not exhaustive, was designed for you in part to prevent you from having to 'prove' the question of influence. However, the parings are merely suggestive; you may wish to explore other possibilities and are welcome to do so.
LIST OF POETS ALPHABETICALLY:
AI (b. 1947)
"I don't feel very comfortable assessing my own work. And I don't feel very knowledgeable about contemporary American poetry. My tastes run to older poets' work, poets like Galway, Kinnell and Phil Levine. Randall Jarrell. I love Cesare Pavese's poetry. I loved The Lice by Merwin when it first came out. I like Gerald Stern's work, and of course, Louis Simpson's. Honestly, there are very few of my contemporaries whose work I admire or feel inspired by—I really like Steve Orien's poetry and Jon Anderson's and Norman Dubie's. There is an obvious kinship, I believe, between Dubie's work and mine. . . . My favorite poet for a long time has been Jean Follain, whose work is totally different from mine. The list goes on and on." Ai Interviewed by Lawrence Kearney and Michael Cuddihy, first published in Ironwood 12 6, no. 2 (1978)
It was Sharon Olds that I really learned from in that way. She was somebody who was pushing a lot of boundaries about things, things that could be said in poems because she said them, and that was very liberating.
Walt Whitman has been a big and sustaining influence…(read more of interview conducted by Kevin Feeney)
Walt Whitman (b. 1819)
Emily Dickinson (b. 1830)
In an interview, Sherman Alexie was asked: "The poetry that you would have studied in American Studies, for instance, the poetry of Wallace Stevens or e.e. cummings or Emily Dickinson never influenced you at all?" He responded: "Of course it did. I loved that stuff. I still love it. Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson are two of my favorites . . . they're still a primary influence. I always tell people my literary influences are Stephen King, John Steinbeck, and my mother, my grandfather and the Brady Bunch."
JOHN ASHBERY (recipient of the 2001 Wallace Stevens Award) (see also the New York School)
Wallace Stevens (b. 1879)
Ashbery's subject matter is similar to that of his favorite poet, Wallace Stevens. Both poets write of the mind forming hypotheses about reality in general, about the ultimate truth or nature of things. Stevens, as I said earlier, took for granted that we cannot know reality in itself. Whether we conceive of it as a colorless, featureless continuum, like gray haze on a winter afternoon, or as a "jostling festival" of concrete, particular identities, like a morning in June full of birdsong, we are in either case forming an imagination of reality. … (David Perkins (1987): "On Ashbery's Predecessors: Stevens, Eliot and Pound")
As John Ashbery describes in Other Traditions :"In addition to the poets one has at times been influenced by, there is also a much smaller group whom one reads habitually in order to get started; a poetic jump start for times when the batteries run down." He goes on the mention the major poets Holderlin, Auden, Moore, Stein, Bishop, Stevens, Williams, Pasternak and Mandelstam, but chooses to write about five lesser known writers, his "other tradition" of writers who have helped him at one time or another:Clare, Beddoes, Roussel, Wheelwright, Riding and David Schubert. The group is decidedly, as he says, a "mixed bag" and all the better-- a kind of cross fertilization takes place in such circumstances. "Without contraries is no progression," wrote Blake. As Charles Simic says in A Fly In The Soup:"I liked so many different kinds of poetry. One month I was a disciple of Hart Crane; the next month only Walt Whitman existed for me." Simic goes on to say:"I am only mildly exaggerating when I say that I couldn't take a piss without a book in my hand. I read to fall asleep and to wake up. I read everything from Plato to Mickey Spillane. Even in my open coffin, some day, I should be holding a book. The Tibetan Book of the Dead would be most appropriate, but I'd prefer a sex manual or the poems of Emily Dickinson." One only has to look at the poems of Yugoslav poet Vasko Popa to see the profound and lasting influence that he has had on Simic himself whose object and mythic poems rely on but also transform the work of Popa." (from Dancing as if Free: Reading, Imitation and Influence by Richard Jackson)
"[Simic] readily admits the importance of Wallace Stevens, Marianne Moore, Gertrude Stein, Elizabeth Bishop, and more surprisingly William Carlos Williams, Boris Pasternak, and Osip Mandelstam." (The New York Review of Books November 30, 2000)
A.R. AMMONS (b. 1926) (also see ecopoetry)
Robert Frost (b. 1874)
"The critic Harold Bloom has championed Ammons as a transcendentalist, 'the most direct Emersonian in American poetry since Frost'. Like Frost, Ammons loves nature too deeply to sentimentalize it or flinch in the face of its cruelties. But he is warmer; where Frost is a poet of terror, Ammons would convert fear into praise. He aspires, as he writes in the, 'The City Limits', to a transcendent 'radiance' that illuminates equally a sublime landscape or the scene of a natural slaughter." (from Archie: A Profile of A. R. Ammons by David Lehman)
Bruce Andrews (see also L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E poetry)
JIMMY SANTIAGO BACA
William Carlos Williams
As a poet, Baca is often compared to Pablo Neruda. The great Chilean poet was certainly one of Baca's earliest and most profound influences. "It was his enthusiasm for language," Baca says, "and it didn't come from a text book. He was celebrating nature like Jim Harrison does in his fiction. I like that a lot." Baca's other poetic influences come from far and wide. He names everyone from William Carlos Williams to Walt Whitman to Rilke to Black Elk to Octavio Paz as major influences. (From the Inside Out : An Interview with Jimmy Santiago Baca By Steven Robert Allen at Alibi)
Mary Jo Bang
AMIRI BARAKA (LEROI JONES) (b. 1934)
Charles Olson (b. 1910)
Frank O'Hara (b. 1926)
Allen Ginsberg (b. 1926)
"Baraka was greatly influenced by the white avant-garde: Charles Olson, O'Hara, and Ginsberg, in particular, shaped his conception of a poem as being exploratory and open in form. Donald Allen records in The New American Poetry: 1945-1960 Baraka's Beat-period views on form: 'there must not be any preconceived notion or design for what a poem ought to be. 'Who knows what a poem ought to sound like? Until it's thar' say Charles Olson . . . & I follow closely with that. I'm not interested in writing sonnets, sestinas or anything . . . only poems.'" (from the "Introduction," to The LeRoi Jones/ Amiri Baraka Reader  by William J. Harris)
Williams Carlos Williams (b. 1883)
Walt Whitman (b. 1819)
Pablo Neruda (1904)
"Marvin Bell once said that you should try to write a poem that doesn't sound like a poem, which means we have to cast off our influences, to read not to imitate or to copy, but to transform, to make new. Just think of what he has done to Williams, such a powerful and important influence on his own work, how he has transformed Williams vision of the line especially in his "Dead Man" poems. I suppose the point of reading is a sort of intellectual osmosis where the mind absorbs the past only enough to forget it as it was and so to create something new. We don't grow by watching the marks and numbers our parents draw on the door frame; we grow by growing where we have to grow." (from Dancing As If Free: Reading, Imitation and Influence by Richard Jackson)
When asked who are some of his primary poetic influences, Marvin Bell responded: "The list of poets is long and includes Whitman, William Carlos Williams, Neruda, and two dozen American poets from the generation ahead of mine." (4 Better or 4 Words.com interview)
WENDELL BERRY (b. 1934) (also see ecopoetry)
Although the source of Berry's writing is clear by simply reading his writing, the influences on his style may not be. His earliest introduction to literature cane from his mother. She would read to him as a child and helped young Berry develop an appreciation for books (Angyal 7). He recalls, "To be sick and home from school and feeling well enough to listen was an excellent pleasure, because she would read to me" (Weinreb 40). Berry remembers reading Swiss Family Robinson as a boy, along with Mark Twain, and Mary O'Hara. He also names Shakespeare, Jane Austin, and Thoreau as authors that he studied in school (40). However, Berry continues by saying, "I'm wary of trying to deal with the issue of literary influences, because of my fear that I won't remember them all and my suspicion that don't even know them all" (40). (excerpt Wendell Berry - 1934 By Karen Oppito)
JOHN BERRYMAN (b. 1914)
[Berryman's] early work was published in a volume entitled Five Young American Poets in 1940 and reflects the influences of the British poets W. B. Yeats, W.H. Auden, Gerard Manley Hopkins, and the Americans Hart Crane and Ezra Pound. (The Academy of American Poets Bio)
Gerard Manley Hopkins
"Though Lowell repeatedly confessed his debt to Bishop's poetry, her debt to his is less well known. For Bishop, Lowell represented the quintessential American: male and historically significant. Indeed, he became her "other." Even as Questions of Travel seems a reply to Lowell's earlier Life Studies, Geography III seems unimaginable without Lowell's struggle to place life at the center of the lyric."
"Poets as diverse as George Herbert and Gerard Manley Hopkins, Emerson, Thoreau, and Neruda greatly influenced Bishop's early work." (excerpt from The Heath Anthology of American Literature, 4th Ed.)
ROBERT BLY (b. 1926) (also
image"- neo-surrealist poetry)
Eavan Boland (also see Contemporary Irish Poetry)
AllenRandolph: After the 1960s, you married, went to live in the suburbs outside Dublin, and your poetry began turning in a different direction. This brings us into the early 1970s and I'm interested in what you were reading, especially the work of Sylvia Plath. Was she important to you at that time?
Boland: Yes, but no so clearly as later. She was important in different ways at different times. I was twenty when I first heard about her. She'd been dead about a year then. I was a student, very unprepared for the world I was about to find. She became linked to my sense of that world, sometimes an influence, sometimes a counter-image. So my first contact with her work was well before the time you mention." (excerpted from "A Backward Look: An interview with Eavan Boland" by Jody AllenRandolph in Colby Quarterly, special issue on Eavan Boland, December 1999)
Also see Boland's -- Letter to a Young Woman Poet" where she envisions the future dynamics of literary influence and communion among women in the book By Herself: Women Reclaim Poetry. (see me for a copy of this article)
PHILIP BOOTH (b. 1925)
JOSEPH BRODSKY (b. 1940)
GWENDOLYN BROOKS (Brooks' life and career / Online Interviews / About the Black Arts Movement)
Langston Hughes (b. 1902)
Countee Cullen (b. 1903)
Walt Whitman (b. 1819)
Emily Dickinson (b. 1830)
Paul Laurence Dunbar (b. 1872)
In an interview for The Booklist with Hazel Rochman (The Booklist. v90n4 Oct 15, 1993. p.426-427), Putlitzer Prize-winning poet Gwendolyn Brooks discusses her early influences and her friendship with poet Langston Hughes.
The Oxford Companion to African-American Literature's introduction to Brooks' poetry states: "Trying to determine clear lines of influence from the work of earlier writers to later ones is always a risky business; however, knowing some identifiable poetic traditions can aid in understanding the work of Gwendolyn Brooks. On one level there is the English metaphysical tradition perhaps best exemplified by John Donne. From nineteenth-century American poetry one can detect elements of Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, and Paul Laurence Dunbar. From twentieth century American poetry there are many strains, most notably the compact style of T S. Eliot, the frequent use of the lower-case for titles in the manner of e. e. cummings, and the racial consciousness of the Harlem Renaissance, especially as found in the work of Countee Cullen and Langston Hughes; but, of perhaps greater importance, she seems to be a direct descendant of the urban commitment and attitude of the "Chicago School' of writing. For Brooks, setting goes beyond the Midwest with a focus on Chicago and concentrates on a small neglected comer of the city. Consequently, in the final analysis, she is not a carbon copy of any of the Chicago writers."
crafted, influenced by Langston Hughes, T. S. Eliot, Emily Dickinson, and
Robert Frost—and later by the 1960s Black Arts movement, Brooks’s poetry was
always a social act. A Street in Bronzeville addresses the realities of
segregation for black Americans at home and in World War II military service; Annie
Allen ironically explores post-war anti-romanticism. Maud Martha,
her prose masterpiece, sketches a bildungsroman of black womanhood; The Bean
Eaters and later poems sound the urgencies of the Civil Rights movement. In
1967 she attended the Second Fisk University Writers’ Conference and was deeply
impressed with the activism of Amiri Baraka. Subsequently, although she had
always experimented with various forms, her work opened more distinctly to free
verse, a notable feature of In the Mecca (1968), the book published the
year she was appointed Poet Laureate of Illinois. (Brooks
Textbook Site for The Heath Anthology of American Literature)
Sophie Cabot Black
Lorna Dee Cervantes
LUCILLE CLIFTON (b. 1936)
MARILYN CHIN (b. 1955)
BILLY COLLINS (b. 1941)
e.e. cummings (b. 1894)
Wallace Stevens (b. 1879)
Hart Crane (b. 1899)
"Collins' influences range from Ferlinghetti and cummings to Stevens, Hart Crane and Ginsberg, and his teenage jottings mimicked these writers' erudition and complex verse. "I thought to be a poet you had to speak in code. It was like verbal knitting." (Gautam Naik, "Billy Collins: a blue jeans kinda style" in Magma 14)
AV: You mention Coleridge. In other interviews, you've talked about how reading Keats played a pivotal role in the maturation of your poetic style and how the Beats were an important influence earlier in your career. Could you talk a little bit about these influences and who you are reading now?
COLLINS: Influence is always a looming question for me. Danilo Kis said that when we ask a writer about his influences, we are treating him like an infant in a basket abandoned on the front steps of a convent. We want to know who his parents are. I think if any writer was aware of all of his influences, he would be like the centipede who fell over when he started thinking about how his hundred legs were able to move at the same time. The knowledge would be paralyzing. Also, talk of influences tends to be unreliable, because we tend to invent our influences, just as we invent our parents at some point in our lives. Our entire past. But there are moments. I was a most impressionable teenager back in the days of Beatnik glory, so I responded fully to Kerouac, Ginsberg, Ferlinghetti's "Coney Island of the Mind"-still a good title-Gregory Corso and others. I was in Paris for a summer in the early sixties and hung self-consciously around the corners of the scene on the Boul Mich, as they called it. I sat at the same table with Corso and others, and I even hung around with an American girl named Ann Campbell, whom Realities magazine had called "The Queen of the Beatniks." (Let's see...what did that make me??) But mostly I was a Catholic high school boy in the suburbs who fantasized about stealing a car and driving non-stop to Denver. I probably would have done it, but I didn't have access to those special driving pills Neal Cassady had. Plus, there was always a test to study for, or band practice. [...] A more helpful influence came in the form of a little Penguin paperback-which I still have-called The New Poetry. It was edited by A. Alvarez and was my first exposure to poets like Thom Gunn, Ted Hughes, Philip Larkin, Charles Tomlinson and others. I carried this book with me everywhere I went in high school. I loved the clarity and the irony and the mostly simple language. Lines like:
The wind blew all my wedding-day,
And my wedding night was the night of the high wind
I didn't know if Larkin was kidding or not, and that's just the way I wanted to keep it. I would say something like that is the ideal tone for me in my poems, a tone that would be perfectly balanced between feeling and irony. Very difficult to do. Because it's so easy to fall into one extreme or the other and write a poem that is sappy or too cute or hard-boiled. In that same little book was Lowell's naked poetry, and Thom Gunn, who wrote poems about bikers and Elvis Presley. I was listening to Elvis around the clock, but I never knew you could write poems about him. I was the prisoner of an older decorum, and these poets showed me the way out. (continued at terraincognita.com...full text article)
Fall2001, Vol. 43 Issue 159, p182, 33p, 2bw
George Pinmpton interviews poet Billy Collins. Inspiration for writing the first line of a poem; Anecdotes about growing up and family life; Literary influences; Literary style, influences and themes; Comments on other poets...
JANE COOPER (b. 1924)
ROBERT CREELEY (b. 1926) (see also the Black Mountain poets)
VICTOR HERNANDEZ CRUZ (b. 1949)
ALISON HAWTHORNE DEMING (b. 1946)
TOI DERRICOTTE (b. 1941)
W.S. DI PIERO (b. 1945)
JAMES DICKEY (b. 1923)
RITA DOVE (1952- )
Edna St. Vincent Millay (1892)
Q: Who are your favorite poets? And who has been an influence on your work?
A: I wonder why people always want to know that. My favorite poets may not be your bread and butter. Also, I have more favorite poems than favorite poets...Langston Hughes: A Theme for English B... Cavafy's Marc Anthony Leaving Alexandra... I don't know why, but those poems change my life every time I read them. My early influences were Shakespeare, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Heine... and Mother Goose. For each stage of life, there are groups of poets --- the list is too long!
STEVEN DOBYNS (b. 1941)
MARK DOTY (b. 1953)
Christopher Hennessy: Speaking of Whitman, he seems to be one of the strongest influences I hear, but I also hear Bishop, and not exclusively in Source.
Mark Doty: I have been educated by Bishop in profound ways. I read her first in the early 70s, and didn't get it; I'd been schooled on the flamboyant intensities of neo-surrealism, and thus I found her poems cold and hard to get at. I read her again in the late 70s and my perspective shifted to allow me to appreciate her precise and evocative detail. But it wasn't until the late 80s and early 90s that I found myself drawn to her way of revealing the self by means of the "how" of seeing; the character of the perceiver was made available to us through the way in which attention was paid, through the choices by which attention made itself felt through language. There's an epistemological project there: We know her by virtue of how she knows. Perhaps the suggestion is that this is what poetry can give us -- knowledge in context, historical, specific, the self caught in the act of knowing. I don't believe we should go in fear of influence. The fact is that poetry never exists in a vacuum; it's written in dialogue with other poems, part of a vast web of utterance and response and further response. Each of my books seems to me to be animated, in part, by a conversation with another poet or poets. My Alexandria speaks, of course, to Cavafy, but it also very much involved with Rilke and with Robert Lowell. Hart Crane and James Merrill are present in Atlantis, too, but nowhere near the extent that their stylistic characters are engaged in Sweet Machine. That book is a broader and more inclusive book than itspredecessor, and concerned -- on a formal level -- with intensification of the verbal surface, which becomes increasingly wrought, more assertively musical than in previous books. At the core of it is an argument about art, about the power of what we make, which both distinguishes us as human and threatens to be the agent of our damnation. Those two powerful ghosts are tutors of both formal complexity and emotional nuance. There are shadow presences of other poets here as well -- my late friend Lynda Hull (in "Murano" and "Emerald"), Jorie Graham (in "Lilies in NYC") and Stevens (in "Dickeyville Grotto"), and I'msure others I'm not thinking of at the moment. I guess I think of a book as a kind of arena of response. (An Interview with Mark Doty, Lambda Book Report; June-July 2002, v.10, 11, 12(5))
ALAN DUGAN (b. 1923)
ROBERT DUNCAN (see also the Black Mountain poets)
The most influential and groundbreaking responses to H.D. tend to emanate either from poets or from critics who operate on the margins of criticism. One thinks of Robert Duncan's 'The H.D. Book' (Coyote's Journal, 8 (1967) … Duncan's presence is a powerful one in this collection attesting to his role as one of H.D.'s most passionate supporters)” (from H.D. & Poets After)
DENISE DUHAMEL (1961)
Frank O'Hara (1926)
the New York School poets
Explaining her writing influences, such as John Ashbery and O'Hara, Duhamel, who herself has had four works included in the prestigious Best American Poetry series, says: "I am interested in the New York School poets. I'm drawn to their openness to language play and their daring to expand the boundaries of what a poem is. For many years I was interested in the confessional' or personal or anecdotal poem. I still enjoy reading those kinds of poems, but now I feel, in my own work, that sort of poem has run its course. I really like the third generation of the New York School poets (I think we're up to the third generation by now!) -- Nin Andrews and David Trinidad, in particular." ("Alive Poet Society :Denise Duhamel" by Robin Shear for Miami New Times
excerpt from Interview With David Trinidad (Reprinted from The Anthologist Fall 1998)
Trinidad: What are your influences?
Duhamel: Anais Nin was my first literary hero. I loved her diaries, simply devoured them. Then came Sexton, Plath, and Wakoski. I liked Ted Hughes, William Carlos Williams, H.D., Denise Levertov, Allen Ginsberg, Elizabeth Bishop. On my twentieth Birthday, my roommate gave me a copy of Frank O'Hara's Lunch Poems, and that influenced me profoundly. I've always been influenced by my friends, work. In College, I was close to the poet Rachel Sherwood, was devastated when she was killed in a car accident. Later, I became friends with Dennis Cooper and Amy Grestler. I love their poems. Dennis introduced me to the work of James Schuyler. Schuyler, like O'Hara, was a profound influence. Years afterward, Schuyler and I became friends, which was wonderful. Other poets who have meant a lot to me include Tim Dlugos, Elaine Equi, Joe Brainard and Alice Notely.
Queen for a Day is exuberant, brazen, bold, honest as hell, audaciously unpretentious, and outrageously self-referential, a Frank O'Hara meets Lucille Ball meets Sarah Bernhard of a book: sin verguenza!"— Dorianne Laux
“You've mentioned that it's important to acknowledge one's influences, and that your influences include Sharon Olds, Molly Peacock, Ai, Sylvia Plath, and Jayne Cortez.” Denise Duhamel Interviewed by RSP Editor Jalina Mhyana
STEPHEN DUNN (b.1939)
Robert Frost (b. 1874)
Theodore Roethke (b. 1908)
Wallace Stevens (b. 1879)
"What sets Dunn apart from many others in the poetry mill is his keen ability to draw on his natural surroundings to explain the human condition. Examples of this mode of expression can be found in the poetry of Robert Frost, who Dunn counts among his early influences, along with Theodore Roethke and Wallace Stevens." (Amy Smith, The Austin Chronicle)
As to other poetic influences, Dunn is not quite sure whether he is still influenced by other poets in ways that impact his work. There are certainly a host of poets he admires and reads. Among them are Whitman and Dickinson (poets who "follow their own dictates, stay the course against the current"), and Frost ("Once I learned that he was essentially a philosophical poet. I'd read him for his narrative tactics as well."). One might naturally think of, given his roots in New Jersey and the affinity with William Carlos Williams and Paterson, New Jersey, along with Paterson, the poem, that place might serve as an influence to
Dunn's poetry. To this, Dunn says: "I'm not much a poet of place. Even when I'm using the names of places in New Jersey, my focus is on 'the other world inside this one.' I feel that I'm using place to talk about concerns that transcend place." In regard to
W.C. Williams, his influence is "more aesthetic for me than it is geographical." [...] Admitting he was somewhat enamoured by
the so-called "Deep Image" poem that seemed to be the trend of the late 1960s and '70s, he found the need to resist. "Gradually I learned to write a poetry that was mine. When I found myself writing a poem that was inclined toward statement more than toward image, a poem slightly more discursive, I had to learn how to pace and orchestrate effects in a different way. It might be said that I've been trying to perfect such a poem ever since." (from "Stephen Dunn: Waking Up Poetry" by Mahlon Coop, Potpourri Vol. 14, No. 2.)
most of our best poets and more than some, Dunn isn’t easy to classify. He
doesn’t represent any particular school, rides no particular hobbyhorse. A
major early influence is Frost, who Dunn says showed him how to have clarities
and mysteries at the same time. More recently, he has come to admire Eastern
European poets and cites Zbigniew Herbert and Wislawa Szymborska. (review
of 'Different Hours' by Stephen Dunn, Sunday, July 08, 2001Post Gazette)
CORNELIUS EADY (b. 1952)
LYNN EMANUEL (b. 1949)
KM: What author do you think has influenced you most?
BF: [Elizabeth] Bishop, and my pal Ann Fisher-Wirth (another Mississippi poet!) and my professors.
(Interview with Beth Ann Fennelly by Katherine Montgomery)
(others see below)
"When Forché's, Gathering the Tribes was published in 1975, Stanley Kunitz's selection that year for the Yale Younger Poet's Prize, Kenneth Rexroth wrote with prescience: 'Carolyn Forché is beyond question the best woman poet to appear in the Yale Younger Poet series since Muriel Rukeyser, whom in a special way she somewhat resembles. She is far better education than most poets, not just in school, but in life.. .She is also something nobody ever seemed to be able to find in the 30's whe they were in demand--a genuine proletarian poet.' Rexroth was stumbling, more for what Forché herself later called the poetry of witness than the poetry of political class, but the comparison to Rukeyser is nontheless inviting." (David W. Faulkner Introduces Forche at the NYS Summer Writers Institute, 7/2/97)
"Something happed along the way to the introspective poet I had been. My new work seemed controversial to my American contemporaries, who argued against its 'subject matter,' or against the right of a North American to contemplate such issues in her work, or against any mixing of what they saw as the mutually exclusive realms of the personal and the political. Like many other poets, I felt I had no real choice regarding the impulse of my poems, and had only to wait, in meditative expectancy. In attempting to come to terms with the question of poetry and politics, I turned to the work of Anna Akhmatova, Yanni Ritsos, Paul Celan, Fredrico Garcia Lorca, Nazim Hikmet, and others. I began collecting their work, and soon found myself a repository of what began to be called 'the poetry of witness.'" (from her introduction to Against Forgetting: Twentieth Century Poetry of Witness.)
TESS GALLAGHER (b. 1943)
JAMES GALVIN (b. 1951)
FOREST GANDER (b. 1956)
NIKKI GIOVANNI (b. 1960)
JORIE GRAHAM (b. 1959)
Wallace Stevens (b. 1879)
Poet Jorie Graham says (Craig Lambert's "Image and the Arc of Feeling," January-February, page 39) that she was concerned that having a child would hamper her as a poet, commenting that of the women poets who had strongly influenced her work--Sappho, Dickinson, Elizabeth Bishop, Marianne Moore--"Not one of them had children.
Wallace Stevens is a particularly important presence, a natural influence on this philosopher-poet [Jorie Graham]." ... Graham's more immediate precursors. Threads from Bishop, Lowell, Ammons, and others have been woven into the unique fabric of the work[...] Graham is a natural heir to modernism, the foremost poet to carry forth its ambitious project, discredited by recent purveyors of the new. (Online Review of Graham's The Errancy by Bonnie Costello in Boston Review)
BARBARA GUEST (b. 1920)
THOM GUNN (b. 1929)
MARILYN HACKER (b. 1942) (see also Expansive/Neo-formalist poetry)
In an interview on form by Annie Finch, Marilyn Hacker discusses her influences. (in The American Poetry Review; Philadelphia; May 1996; Finch, Annie; Volume: 25 Issue: 3 -- periodicals Thomas Library)
DONALD HALL (b. 1928)
ROBERT HASS (b. 1941)
ANTHONY HECHT (b. 1923)
LYN HEJINIAN (b. 1941) (see also L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E poetry)
Three nights of readings at the Kelly Writers House at the University of Pennsylvania featured three contemporary poets reading their own and a modernist's writings. In her reading, Lyn Hejinian expressed a relationship to the work of Gertrude Stein. These programs were recorded in digital audio, and are now available as a permanent archive of the project. (Hejinian's 30-minute reading.)1)
BRENDA HILLMAN (b. 1951)
"The fact is that a lot of experimental contemporary writing comes out of Baudelaire, Rimbaud, and Mallarmé, and of course Stein. The forms in experimental writing come from a lot of different sources. I would never want to say to somebody, You stole my work-unless they actually took my words, which has actually happened on a couple of occasions, without citation to that effect. But people don't own ways of writing, and so it seemed important to kind of get that notion into the world. There are original moments in art, as in everything. But nobody owns those." ("Our Very Greatest Human Thing Is Wild: An Interview with Brenda Hillman by Sarah Rosenthal in Rain Taxi Online)
EDWARD HIRSCH (b. 1950)
"Well, both Stevens and Moore are poets I admire, but they can be very cool. Stevens has his deep passions, but mostly they are suppressed and have to come steaming to the surface from a long way down. One of the things I saw as my task was to add the heat to whatever I learned from his work. I felt and still feel much closer—in terms of the passions of poetry—to Keats and to Shelley, who give such high priority to emotion. Intensity is all. My reading of the modern poets was that they offered me wondrously different things, and my task would be to supply some of the things they didn’t offer. I felt I had a place at the table. I thought, “What if you took some of that discursive intelligence in Stevens and gave it tremendous warmth and heat? What would happen if a Stevensian poetry was written with the same kind of passion and intensity as say, others might associate with a poet like James Wright?” I wanted to keep the intelligence without losing the emotional affect. I learned from Stevens a certain way of thinking in poetry. In terms of emotional temperature, I always felt closer to Hart Crane." (Hirsch interview with Tod Marshall, The Kenyon Review)
Emily Dickinson (b. 1830)
Walt Whitman (b. 1819)
"Although the prevailing consciousness is Buddhist, the presiding influence is Dickinson. Like Dickinson, Hirshfield often manages to yoke the inner and the outer worlds into close quarters through the use of metaphysical conceits and surprising metaphors. And like Dickinson, the results are often achingly ecstatic: "Even the long-beloved /was once/ an unrecognized stranger./Just so/ the chipped lip/ of a blue-glazed cup,/ blown field/ of a yellow curtain,/might also,/ flooding and falling,/ ruin your heart" ("Meeting the Light Completely"). These poems know the ruins, and place them lovingly beside the pristine and restored, all the be praised." (from a review of Hirshfield's The October Palace in The Antioch Review, Vol. 53, Issue 1)
"Jane Hirshfield, a lyricist in the lineage of Emily Dickinson, Edna St. Vincent Millay, and Elizabeth Bishop, continues, at mid-career, to compose poems that extend unmistakably from her earlier work, attentive to the ways of peaceful mind and heart, bearing sibylline perception with each closely hewn stanza." (in nowculture.com's review of Hirshfield's Given Sugar, Given Salt)
"Like many of her contemporaries, she writes free verse in American diction, and she loves Whitman, Dickinson, Kinnell, Bishop, Snyder, and Hass-not to mention those other "American" influences, Neruda, Rilke, Milosz-but it is her acquaintance with profoundly exoticsensibilities-from India, China, and especially Japan-that lend her work a distinct depth and air." (excerpt from Ploughshares article)
In an interview in Contemporary Authors, Hirschfield cites as influences "the Greek and Roman lyrics, the English sonnet, those foundation stones of American poetry - Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson - and 'modern' poets from T.S. Eliot to Anna Akhmatova to C.P. Cavafy to Pablo Neruda." She adds that they "all have added something to my knowledge of what is possible in poetry." Her work also reflects her interest in, and study of, classical Chinese poets Tu Fu, Li Po, Wang Wei, and Han Shan; classical Japanese Heian-era poets Ono no Komachi and Izumi Shikibu; and such lesser known traditions as Eskimo and Nahuatl poetry.
TONY HOAGLAND (b. 1953)
JOHN HOLLANDER (b. 1929)
GARRETT HONGO (b. 1951)
"Hongo's use of parallel phrasing can be described at times as Whitmanesque; in his poetic narrative, he carefully layers words
and images. Hongo infuses the visual with other sensate details. Also, animal imagery as well as Hawaiian legend inform his
poetic irnpressions. Consequently, memories imbued with cultural and organic resonances display reverence for nature and its
power to help people establish their own identities." (Suzanne K. Arakawa in Encyclopedia of American Literature. Steven R. Serafin, Editor).
SUSAN HOWE (b. 1937) (see also L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E poetry)
ANDREW HUDGINS (b. 1951)
RICHARD HUGO (b. 1923)
MARK JARMAN (b. 1952) (see also Expansive/Neo-formalist poetry)
Robinson Jeffers (b. 1887)
One of the founders of the New Narrative movement in contemporary poetry, Mark Jarman recovers lost storytelling traditions in a poetry that is grounded in specific places (California, Scotland, and rural Kentucky) and specific times (particularly his childhood and adolescence in the 1950s and 1960s). With partner Robert McDowell, Jarman was the cofounder of the Reaper, the primary organ of the New Narrative movement. Jarman has often advanced highly polemical arguments for narrative poetry as an antidote to what he sees as exhausted lyric and meditative modes of contemporary verse. But his collections of poems are more convincing arguments for narrative, demonstrating a growing facility with all aspects of the art. However strident the Reaper pronouncements may have been at time...In Far and Away Jarman returns to some of his most powerful subject matter with a newfound poetic distance, and the extended narratives "A Daily Glory" and "Lost in a Dream" cover new ground in terms of poetic technique. In these poems Jarman works with longer lines, a change that is important for his later poetry. In The Black Riviera two poems, "The Mystic" and "The Death of God," employ lines reminiscent of those of Robinson Jeffers, about whom Jarman has written, and Jeffers becomes a central presence in Jarman's book-length narrative poem Iris (1992). (excerpt by: Richard Flynn, Georgia Southern University (in the Dictionary of Literary Biography, Volume 120: American Poets Since World War II, Third Series, 1992, pp. 156-161.)
JANE KENYON (b. 1947)
Jane Kenyon once said that at a certain point in her career she took Anna Akhmatova's poetry and worked
with Akhmatova as a master.
GALWAY KINNELL (b. 1927)
Walt Whitman (b. 1819)
Allen Ginsberg (b. 1926)
As contemporary poets with a special interest in the natural world, Kinnell shares connections with the open-form experimentation of Walt Whitman, Allen Ginsberg and the Beats, and various "naked poetry" schools and movements from the 1960s on.
CAROLYN KIZER (b. 1925)
In an interview with Barbara Thompson, poet Carolyn Kizer discusses how she became a poet and her influences. ("The Art of Poetry LXXXI: Carolyn Kizer" in Paris Review. v42n154 Spring 2000. p.344-369)
ETHERIDGE KNIGHT (b. 1931)
Langston Hughes (b. 1902)
Walt Whitman (b. 1819)
"Langston Hughes, Sterling Brown, and Walt Whitman are the major influences on Knight's poetry. Knight's "The Idea of Ancestry" flows in a Whitmanesque style and his "Blues for a Mississippi Black Boy" stems from the transcribed oral, blues poetic tradition of Hughes and Brown. He has indicated these influences in "An Interview with Etheridge Knight."'" by Patricia L. Hill (San Francisco Review of Books 3, no. 9 : 10).
KENNETH KOCH (see also the New York School)
YUSEF KOMUNYAKAA (b. 1947)
MAXINE KUMIN (b. 1925)
STANLEY KUNITZ (b. 1905)
Gerard Manley Hopkins (b. 1844)
One interviewer, in asking of Kunitz relationship to religion, refers to his early influences: "Many of the poets you loved--your early influences--Herbert, Donne, Blake, Hopkins--I think of as essentially religious poets."
the "Confessional Poets"
Olds is mentioned several times in, The Poets Companion, as a writer
whose work is a good model for students of poetry, as well as for the pleasure
of reading well-crafted poetry. You have also spoken of her greatness as a poet
of domestic/erotic love. How much of an impact has her poetry had on you and
your work? What other contemporary poets have made similar impression on
LAUX: Olds is fearless. Without the model of Olds as a writer who sees heroism in the ordinary, the daily, the domestic, I could
not have written the poems I have written. Her sex poems are luminous with darkness and complexity and I am indebted to her for forging that territory. I read her first when I took a night class from poet Steve Kowit and I was absolutely blown asunder. I see in my students' faces the same awe and gratitude that I felt when she first spoke to me. She uncovers so much and is unafraid to bring it up into the light, to turn it in every direction so that each shadow is revealed. What more could we ask of our poets but to be that careful, courageous and precise? That awed by life? Her poems have a raw energy that can only be gotten to if you go down into the mines and haul up their dark fruit. Other poets I am in awe of are Marie Howe, Carolyn Forche, Philip Levine, Pablo Neruda and, of course, Whitman. More recently I've been reading Susan Yuzna's
Her Slender Dress, and Belle Waring's Dark Blonde, both poets with enormous energy, and a quirkiness in their rhythms
and use of language and humor. Billy Collins is a favorite, as well as the poet Doug Anderson who has written wonderful
poems about the Vietnam war in his book The Moon Reflected Fire.
" My poetry
is called confessional and I have no problem with the term though I think it is
often misused in
the way I have described. There are poems that have not yet become art, that stay at the simple level of pure confession, or
poems that focus more on the psychology of an individual rather than on the psychological moment." (excerpt from an email assisted interview series hosted by C.K. Tower)
LI-YOUNG LEE (b. 1957)
Walt Whitman (b. 1819)
Theodore Roethke (b. 1908)
William Carlos Williams (b. 1883)
Rainer Maria Rilke (b. 1875)
Among the literary influences that Lee has acknowledged are the biblical Song of Songs, Gerald Stern’s Lucky Life, Kierkegaard’s Fear and Trembling, Meister Eckhart’s sermons, and Rainer Maria Rilke’s “Duino Elegies.” The spiritual and emotional experience of the poems is accompanied by a down-to-earth sensualness that Lee says “comes from my obsession with the body, man-body, earth-body, woman-body, father-body, mother-body, mind-body (for I experience the mind as another body) and the poem body.” This vision may suggest the influence of Whitman, but it is also rooted in Daoism. Lee is familiar with Daoist texts and admires Lao Zi, Lie Zi, and Zhuang Zi, whose sense of wonder and mystery and whose paradoxical and skeptical characteristics are evident in Lee’s poems and prose-poem memoir. (bio by Xiaojing Zhou, Textbook Site for: The Heath Anthology of American Literature, 4th ed.)
"[Li-Young Lee's] poems are explosive and earthy, and in The City in Which I Love You he has come into his own. . . . Like a pairing of Walt Whitman with the great Tang dynasty poet Tu Fu, Li-Young Lee emerges as an audacious and passionate poet-traveler. In the manner of Tang poetry, he speaks colloquially but metaphysically; he meditates, but always allows the noises of the world to enter. He is best when he courts understatement (for at times the Whitman influence seems too heavy-handed for his fine perceptions). . . . Still, if Mr. Lee's sins are those of excess, they are almost always forgivable in the ambitious context of his book. He takes chances many others in our timid, cool, self-conscious age would not." (poet Carol Muske writes in The New York Times Book Review)
Jordan: You’ve been
likened to Theodore Roethke, Walt Whitman, and William Carlos Williams. Do you
feel their voices echo through your own?
Lee: I read them with love so I suppose you can’t help but have them influence you on some level. Isn’t that the way you read, too, Marie? You can’t help but take them inside you.
Jordan: You’ve also been compared to Rilke, especially with your first book of poems, Rose. Was he an influence in those early poems?
Lee: That is a funny thing. I hadn’t read Rilke yet when I wrote those poems in Rose.
(excerpt from "An
Interview with Li-Young Lee" by Marie Jordan from the May/Summer 2002
issue of The Writer's Chronicle. © 2002)
DENISE LEVERTOV (b. 1923) (see also the Black Mountain poets)
William Carlos Williams
Wallace Stevens (b. 1879)
Robert Creeley (b. 1926)
Charles Olson (b. 1910)
Robert Duncan (b. 1919)
Rainer Maria Rilke
(Levertov Interviewed by Sybil Estess)
Estess: You have spoken a great deal about American writers, such as those within the Black Mountain school of poets, who
became your friends and who influenced you after you married Mitchell Goodman and moved to the United States. I wonder if you would care to rename any American writers who influenced you other than these.
Levertov: William Carlos Williams and Wallace Stevens.
Estess: You have written more of your being influenced by Williams than you have about Stevens's influence on you. What
drew you to Stevens's poetry?
Levertov: Stevens is a very musical poet, and it's really the sensuous aspects of his poetry which I have always liked. I am
fascinated with his use of language for its own sake.
Estess: Do you think that perhaps your poems are often like his in this way?
Levertov: I think that there are poems of mine which show Stevens's influence, but influences do not stick out as if they were
bumps. You absorb them; you cannot really talk about them directly. I can speak a bit more concretely about Williams's
influence on me because certainly, coming from England, as I did, the manner in which he incorporated the rhythms and diction
of common speech into his poetry gave me a shot in the arm and a way in which to deal with coming to live in America.
After her move to the U.S., Levertov was introduced to the Transcendentalism of Emerson and Thoreau, formal experimentation of Ezra Pound, and, in particular, the work of William Carlos Williams. Through her husband's friendship with poet Robert Creeley, she became associated with the Black Mountain group of poets, particularly Creeley, Charles Olson, and Robert Duncan, who had formed a short-lived but groundbreaking school in 1933 in North Carolina. Levertov acknowledged these influences, but disclaimed membership in any poetic school.
Early in her career, Levertov became associated with the poets of the Black Mountain school, and she credited the spare, clear, objective work of the poet William Carlos Williams with helping her develop her own vital American style of composition. She tended to avoid the use of metaphor and allusion, preferring instead the direct and immediate description of objects, perceptions, and feelings in the rhythms of ordinary speech.
Levertov has acknowledged the significant influence of Rilke on her poetry and poetics throughout her career, and several of her recent "Variation on a Theme from Rilke" poems will be enriched by Edward Zlotkowski's insightful essay "Levertov and Rilke: A Sense of Aesthetics" in Twentieth Century Literature, Fall 1992.
Levertov’s reflections on the "vocation" of the poet should also be examined in light of the notable influence of the poetry and poetics of Czech poet Rainer Maria Rilke - an influence that she tells us in "Rilke as Mentor" predated by seven or eight years her coming to America and her reading of Williams, Ezra Pound, and Wallace Stevens. (from "Themes in Denise Levertov's Poetry" by Joan F. Hallisey, Modern American Poetry website)
PHILLIP LEVINE (b. 1928)
William Carlos Williams (b. 1818)
When asked who were some of the most important early influences on his voice, Levine responds: "When I came back to writing, I was much more cognizant of the movement of traditional English poetry, Eliot being an early sponsor of my work. Robert Lowell was another powerful influence; I could hear in him an American talking to other Americans, very seriously, very musically, very lyrically, but still talking. In Hart Crane, too, I could hear this speaking voice. And when I looked at Lowell and Crane, I could see the immense formal control; they were able to do things with traditional English structures and rhyme that were very difficult. Then I looked at William Carlos Williams, the most important voice I came across, and I didn't see any of that, and I wondered, Why is this so extraordinary? I had to dig another level deeper, and hear how his exploiting the natural resonance of each word created forms that never existed before. I was intrigued by his use of people speaking, by the idea that the vitality of the spoken voice could be captured in poetry. There was something magical in Williams that I was striving for, but I doubt I ever quite got it, to be frank. I have been a more controlled poet."
Robert Lowell (see
"Though Lowell repeatedly confessed his debt to Bishop's poetry, her debt to his is less well known." (excerpt from The Heath Anthology of American Literature, 4th Ed.)
THOMAS LUX (b. 1947) see also "deep image"- neo-surrealist poetry
I was grouped with, and most influenced by the poets that were called Neo-Surrealists at the time, because that was a time during which Surrealism had a great influence on contemporary American poetry. Knott was a Neo-Surrealist, and Tate was a Neo-Surrealist, and maybe still is; Michael Benedict was a Neo-Surrealist—the big Surrealist anthology came out of this some years later. I was reading all the French Surrealists and the Spanish Surrealists, so I was probably most influenced by that kind of group of poets, the Surrealists, and so-called Neo-Surrealists. After a few years, Surrealism felt like a dead end to me,
and even though I still appreciate a lot of the wackinessand the imagination of Surrealist poetry, I'm not very interested in it anymore. It seems too arbitrary, and again, kind of lazy. It doesn't pay enough attention to the musical elements of poetry. So now I refer to myself as a recovering Surrealist. (Issue 8 The Cortland Review August 1999)
Interviewer: You sometimes call yourself a "recovering surrealist." I thought your latest book, THE STREET OF CLOCKS, contained a lot of surrealist imagery. Did you want to return to that style of writing?
Thomas Lux: I wouldn't call it surrealism. To me, the difference between surrealism and just plain metaphor is that surrealism is arbitrary. In surrealism, you bump things up against each other that are never up against each other, and sometimes that collision of opposites might create something new, but other times it sounds merely arbitrary. I think what Wallace Stevens said about surrealism is true: "It's not enough for something to invent; it also has to discover." I jokingly call myself a recovering surrealist because I was greatly influenced by surrealist writings as a young poet. I truly, deeply value the imaginative, playful, irreverent, revolutionary qualities of surrealism, but what I don't like about it is that it has a lot to do with accident.
(interview with Thomas Lux)
Thomas Lux has been compared, often, with Whitman; Whitman who reminds us that "latent in all great users of words must be all passions, crimes, trades, animals, stars, sex, God, the past, might, space, metals, and the like." That's Whitman's job description for the poet. Lux has, as Whitman prescribes, catalogued a plenitude in his over fifteen collections. Home-truths, blue-collar work songs, advice and warnings turn up in his poems. (from Readings in Contemporary Poetry, Introduction by Brighde Mullins)
NATHANIEL MACKEY (b. 1947)
Anna Akhmatova (b. 1889)
Gerard Manley Hopkins (b. 1844)
In her newest collection, Lynne McMahon offers poems of memory and youth; of literary influences, from Anna Akhmatova (who has given this book its title) to Gerard Manley Hopkins; and of adulthood and the ambiguities of family life.
J.D. McCLATCHY (b. 1945)
HEATHER McHUGH (b. 1948)
W.S. MERWIN (b. 1927) (also see ecopoetry)
THYLIAS MOSS (b. 1954)
DAVID MURA (b. 1952)
"Among the poets I've been influenced by I'd include the following poets from the traditional literary canon--Shakespeare, Donne, Browning, Yeats, Robert Lowell, Elizabeth Bishop, Aime Ceasaire. From the living canon I'd include Philip Levine, Derek Walcott, Czeslaw Milosz. I've admired the example and fortitude of poets like Lucille Clifton, Gwendolyn Brooks and Adrienne Rich and have been delighted and encouraged by the work of a number of my contemporaries, such as Garrett Hongo, Li-Young Lee, Yusef Komunyaaka, Marilyn Chin, Jimmy Santiago Baca, Joy Harjo, and numerous others. I see myself as a member of the first fully integrated generation of American poets, all of us creating a new vision of America and poetry for the world." --David Mura (excerpt)
NAOMI SHIHAB NYE
FRANK O'HARA see also the New York School & Frank O'Hara, "Personism: A Manifesto" & O'Hara Directory
the confessional poetry
MARY OLIVER (b. 1935) (also see ecopoetry)
Walt Whitman (b. 1819)
Her poems of thirty years and her recent prose collection, Blue Pastures (1995), reveal an art driven by visionary conviction in a manner similar to her claimed influences, William Blake and Walt Whitman. Expressed in simple language and familiar imagery, evoking dark and joyous states, this vision of nature is often conveyed in an ecstatic voice that compels. Celebratory and spiritual in her poetic vision, Oliver is one of America 's finest nature poets. . . . (from Encylopedia of American Literature. Steven R. Serafin, Ed. )
CHARLES OLSON (b. 1910) (see also the Black Mountain poets)
MICHAEL ONDAATJE (b. 1943)
One of the most interesting contributions is from Alicia Ostriker whose '"A Wish to Make Real to Myself What is Most Real": My H.D.' is a clear and lucid explanation of the formal and thematic aspects of H.D.'s work that influenced her own poetry. She singles out her collection A Woman Under the Surface (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1982) as evidence of H.D.'s literary legacy identifying 'a certain silver sheen' in these poems, albeit 'a bit tarnished' that mimics the hardened surfaces of H.D.'s own poetry. She also recalls writing the final poem of 'Message for the Sleeper at Hell's Mouth', recognizing that were it not for Trilogy and Helen in Egypt she would not have been capable of completing this sequence of poems, a sequence that culminates in the acceptance of the coexistence of good and evil. (H.D. and Poets After)
MICHAEL PALMER (b. 1943) (see
LINDA PASTAN (b. 1932)
SYLVIA PLATH (b. 1932) (see also confessional poetry)
CARL PHILLIPS (b. 1959)
MARGE PIERCY (b. 1936)
STANLEY PLUMLY (b. 1939)
ROBERT PINSKY (b. 1940)
Robert Lowell (b. 1917)
T.S. Eliot (b. 1888)
Pinsky's "Figured Wheel" was nominated for the 1996 Pulitzer Prize and he is the former Poet Laureate and Consultant in Poetry of the United States. Pinsky's closest kin in terms of thematic material would appear to be Alan Ginsberg. Pinsky is preoccupied with family and religious motifs, which are set against the backdrop of class-divided American society. There is a strong prophetic aspect as well. The big difference between Ginsberg and Pinsky is that Pinsky operates within the stylistic parameters of the post-TS Eliot school. His biggest influence stylistically appears to be the late Robert Lowell. Kathe Pollitt captured the interesting synthesis between his rather visionary themes and the conventional forms they are expressed in a NY Times review: "Pinsky's extraordinarily accomplished and beautiful volume of collected poems...will remind readers that here is a poet who, without forming a mini-movement or setting himself loudly at odds with the dominant tendencies of American poetry, has brought it into something new."
Pinsky, whose work was influenced by jazz, rock and roll, baseball and the poetry of John Keats, T.S. Eliot and Emily Dickinson, was named the U.S. poet laureate in 1997.
ADRIENNE RICH (b. 1929)
Walt Whitman (b. 1819)
Emily Dickinson (b. 1830)
Muriel Rukeyser (b. 1913)
Her work, What Is Found There: Notebooks on Poetry and Politics, takes its title from a stanza of William Carlos Williams: "It is difficult/to get the news from poems/yet men die miserably every day for lack/of what is found there." This work contains an elaborate defense of political poetry, an intricate reading of three of her great predecessors (Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, and Muriel Rukeyser), and generous introductions to dozens of contemporary political poets.
PATTIANN ROGERS (also see ecopoetry)
MURIEL RUKEYSER (b. 1913)
(see Anne Sexton)
SONIA SANCHEZ (b. 1934) (The Black Arts Movement)
Amiri Baraka (LeRoy Jones)
KELLY:: What were the main literary and cultural influences on your poetry?
SANCHEZ: My literary influences came from watching a lot of people who were activists or established people in the black community: Jean Hudson, who was a curator at the chomburg and gave me my first books to read; Mr. Micheux, who owned a bookstore at 125th Street and Seventh Avenue; Richard Moore, who owned another bookstore and gave me my first books about black folk in the Caribbean; and then, of course, John Henrik Clarke, a man who began to teach me a lot about African history. And then Malcolm, whose influence on us all was great. Those were some of the first people who began, in a sense, to encourage us all. And, of course, I read Langston Hughes. And I read Countee Cullen, and Paul Laurence Dunbar, and then Margaret Walker and Gwendolyn Brooks. There was a black woman who was a librarian at the library I went to at 145th Street between Amsterdam Avenue and Broadway who gave me one of the major anthologies of African American poetry to read. And she gave me a book of poetry by Alexander Pushkin which I was fascinated by. I used to go into the library every day--every day! But I was going in and getting these little smutty books, novels. I'd take them home and read them in one sitting, right? And so one day she just decided to give me something beyond novels: "Here, you might like this." The book was the poetry of Langston Hughes, so I'm forever grateful for her.
(from Discipline and Craft: An Interview with Sonia Sanchez (by Susan Kelly, African American Review, Winter 2000, Vol. 34 Issue 4, p679 -- full text of interview available online)
"If you want to grasp the importance of Malcolm X, compare the late writings of Sonia Sanchez or Imamu Baraka with their early, pre-Malcolm works. Bro. Imamu and Sis. Sonia would certainly acknowledge Malcolm's influence. Check out the change of tone and language, the irony and just plain dynamite that developed--and things will become obvious...The fact is, Malcolm X had a fantastic impact, like Garvey in his time, on all the Black Arts. Malcolm's influence on Black Poetry in particular is only too obvious - -- yes, and it is just as obvious in all the Black Arts." [Dingane / "A Review of Dynamite Voices, Don L. Lee," pages 89 and 90
SHEROD SANTOS (b. 1948)
MAY SARTON (b. 1912)
ANNE SEXTON (b. 1928) (see also confessional poetry)
Muriel Rukeyser (b. 1913)
the "Confessional Poets"
The violence and injustice she saw, in the United States and abroad, led her poetry to function as a mode of social protest. She felt a deep responsibility to comment on human issues and was particularly concerned with inequalities of sex, race and class. With her poems, she frequently documented her own emotional experiences within the context of a greater political or social event. . . Many women poets have claimed Rukeyser's influence on their work, Anne Sexton among them. (from The Academy of American Poets bio -- see URL for Sexton)
Robert Lowell, Sylvia Plath, W. D. Snodgrass (who exerted a great influence on
her work), and other "confessional" poets, Sexton offers the reader
an intimate view of the emotional anguish that characterized her life. (excerpt
from bio at Academy of
American Poets website)
NTOZAKE SHANGE (b. 1948)
KARL SHAPIRO (b. 1913)
CHARLES SIMIC (b. 1938)
Williams Carlos Williams
When asked, "Who are your influences?," Simic responded: "The way Don Juan adored different kind of women I adored different kind of poets. I went to bed, so to speak, with ancient Chinese, old Romans, French Symbolists, and American Modernists individually and in groups. I was so promiscuous. I'd be lying if I pretended that I had just one great love." (Charles Simic: Interview by J.M. Spalding 1999 The Cortland Review, Issue Four)
Robert Bly, James Tate, James Wright
Simic's ironic, precise and philosophical poetry has some affinity with the Deep Image Poets, although Simic's European roots
have kept his work distinct. Mark Strand states: "There is a sense in [Simic's] work that images precede objects, that the world is
a creation of myth, that nothing is what we thought it to be, but somehow always suspected it might be. In Charles Simic's poems we experience those sudden swift recognitions of spirit which illumine." (from brief on-line biography)
LOUIS SIMPSON (b. 1923)
TOM SLEIGH (b. 1953)
GARY SNYDER (b. 1930) also see "Gary Snyder at the Blue Neon Alley" (also see ecopoetry)
Snyder, a peer of beat poets and beatniks Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac, is an accomplished anthropologist and scholar of Chinese, Japanese, and Zen Buddhism. These influences, as well as a robust respect for indigenous cultures and their approach towards nature, infuse much of Snyder's poetry and imagery. (from The International River Network's Second Annual "Politics and Poetry of Rivers" by Julie Tsa at BigCityLit.com)
GARY SOTO (b. 1952)
Soto began to read world literature during his junior year in college, and continues to read widely today. "I didn't come from a family where reading was a part of daily life, so I feel I got a late start, but I made up for it," he says. He acknowledges Knut Hamson, Pablo Neruda, Italo Calvino, Gabriel Garcia Marquez. and Henry James as his strongest literary influences. (The Heath Anthology of American Literature, Profiles: Contemporary Poets)
ELIZABETH SPIRES (b. 1952)
In 1977, Spires also approached Elizabeth Bishop, a longstanding influence, to ask for an interview; it was subsequently published in The Paris Review, and, as Bishop’s last full-length interview, remains a vital literary record. "About Elizabeth Spires: A Profile" by A. V. Christie. Ploughshares)
MARK STRAND (b. 1934)
Wallace Stevens (b. 1879)
David Kirby correctly connects "Keeping Things Whole" with Wallace Stevens, one of the primary influences evident in the collections of poetry Strand has produced throughout his career. (in VALPARAISO POETRY REVIEW Contemporary Poetry and Poetics "Four Decades of Mark Strand's Poetry by Edward Byrne"s "Weather Watch: Mark Strand's The Weather of Words"
Strand admittedly has long admired Stevens's work, and read Stevens even before beginning to write his own poetry. (He once remarked to Wayne Dodd: "I discovered I wasn't destined to be a very good painter, so I became a poet. Now it didn't happen suddenly. I did read a lot, and I had been a reader of poetry before. In fact, I was much more given to reading poems than I was to fiction and the book that I read a lot, and frequently, was The Collected Poems of Wallace Stevens") (excerpt from From Creating Another Self: Voice in Modern American Personal Poetry. Kirksville, MO: Thomas Jefferson
University Press, 1995.)
WILLIAM STAFFORD (b. 1914)
GERALD STERN (b. 1925)
"Gerald Stern writes only with great passion, and so he writes passionately about the poets he loves - John Berryman, Delmore Schwartz, Paul Goodman, and e.e. cummings - linking specific poems to his sad, deeply affecting elegy for Larry Levis, a poet friend who had recently died. But he's often at a loss to say exactly how these poems mattered to the process of his own composition. He cites, for example, cummings' marvelous, fierce 'i sing of Olaf glad and big,' saying that it 'has been a tremendous influence.'" (from Jay Parini's review of the book My Business Is Circumference: Poets on Influence and Mastery, Edited by Stephen Berg)
MAY SWENSON (b. 1919)
JAMES TATE (b. 1943)
the "deep image"- neo-surrealist poetry
Frank O'Hara & the New York School
INTERVIEWER: I think of certain people who remind me from time to time of your work but it's not so much in style the way your poems sound is so unique - but certainly in attitude, in the sense that you allow yourself to speak in a vernacular voice, that you can digress. I mean they remind me of other poets influenced by Williams - so someone like O'Hara who seems always willing to say what needs to be said when it needs to be said. And so in that sense its much more about an attitude about what poetry should be and what it can be. Does that make sense?
TATE: Yea! (CrossConnect interview with James Tate)
Thanks to books like The Lost Pilot, surrealism became one of the mainstream styles of American poetry in the 1970s. Indeed, it became the most influential style among male poets. (The women had more public issues of feminism to address.) Older writers like Robert Bly, James Wright, and Donald Hall switched styles to create the "deep image" poem. Although most of them had once composed in rhyme and meter, they now wrote minimalist free verse full of mysterious images drawn from the natural world–a style that was soon wickedly nicknamed "the stones and bones" school of poetry. Yugoslavian-born Charles Simic and Canadian-born Mark Strand recreated an Eastern-European style poem convincingly in American English–spare, quiet but luminous. But there was also a younger, more swaggering school led by Tate that practiced a jazzy and absurdist brand of surrealism. The point of this new style sometimes seemed to be creating a situation or sequence of images as evocatively bizarre and disturbingly creepy as possible. The tone was at once understated and aggressive. Everything, especially violent or depressing subjects, was presented with dark and detached humor. (from a radio review of Jame Tate's Selected Poems originally broadcast on BBC Radio 3, text first printed in Denver Quarterly, Fall 1998 with Dana Gioia)
ELLEN BRYANT VOIGT
DAVID WAGONER (b. 1926)
DIANE WAKOSKI (b. 1937)
the 'Beat Poets'
DEREK WALCOTT (b. 1930)
ALICE WALKER (b. 1944)
RICHARD WILBUR (b. 1921)
William Carlos Williams
Because Wilbur's poetry is characterized by well-wrought images and carefully crafted words, rhythms, and formal patterns, it is not surprising that he counts John Milton as one of the poets who has influenced him. As a scholar of the 17th century, Wilbur has taught Milton to students, but he also "takes excitement and nourishment from him." Other strong influences he claims are William Carlos Williams and Robert Frost. (from Profiled: Contemporary Poets, Heath Anthology of American Literature at Heath Anthology Website)
Wilbur’s most important literary friendship at Harvard, however, was with Robert Frost. Although there was nearly a half century difference in their ages, the two poets became fast friends. The often cantankerous Frost recognized the admiring younger poet’s talent, but what initially caught his attention was Charlee Ward Wilbur’s maiden name. Her grandfather had in 1894 been the first editor to publish Frost’s poems. This early friendship had a lifelong impact on Wilbur. Frost’s poetic style–with its balance of formal music and conversational tone, its engaging surface sense and disturbing depths–deeply influenced Wilbur’s notion of lyric poetry. (from Richard Wilbur: A Critical Survey of His Career, Dana Gioia Online)
Image: Marianne Moore's
poetics of careful, precise observation seems to have influenced not only
Elizabeth Bishop's poetry, but often your own. How important was Moore to your
development? In what ways do you find yourself writing a poetry with a kinship
to Bishop's, and where are the formal and metaphysical divergences between you?
Wilbur: From my early high school days on, I was reading poets like Robert Frost and Hart Crane. But I didn't get knowledgeably excited about contemporary poetry until I was in college and had been taught by a number of wonderful teachers in Amherst's English department, teachers who had the greatest enthusiasm for, among other things, Marianne Moore. The enthusiasm of people I admired was one thing that steered me toward her. But I also felt a natural affinity for her kind of thing: for poetry of close observation, for poetry that acknowledges the importance of things however small, poetry that aims to fuse moral and other thought with the creatures of this world. I felt the same kind of affinity with Elizabeth Bishop, for obvious reasons, when I began to read her a little later on. The same thing in William Carlos Williams has always drawn me I was also attracted for something like the same reason to the Frenchman Francis Ponge, a great celebrator of objects and creatures. I'm drawn to that in almost any poet. D.H. Lawrence seems to me to be full of shapeless blather a good deal of the time, but I love the side of him that's concerned with plants and animals and with realizing things accurately and feelingly. (excerpt from A Conversation with Richard Wilbur Image: A Journal of Arts and Religion Issue #12Winter 1995)
C.K. WILLIAMS (b. 1936)
Rainer Maria Rilke (b. 1875)
Q: Are there any writers or poets who you would consider strong influences on your own work?
A: Oh, yeah, many, many. The last two would be George Herbert, the Renaissance poet, and Rainer Maria Rilke, a German poet, has been an influence all along. But over the last few years, it's been mostly George Herbert. Now I'm writing about the Israeli poet Yehuda Amichai, and he's very important for me right now.
read essay "Beginnings" online at Academy
of American Poets web site From Poetry and Conciousness by C. K.
Williams, published by University of Michigan Press. Copyright © 1998
C.D. WRIGHT (b. 1949)
CHARLES WRIGHT (b. 1935)
In discussing his early influences, Wright comments: "I discovered poems in Verona...I read a poem that Pound had written...and my life was changed forever."
Born in 1953, Wright draws from a deep well of spiritual poetry confined not only tothe twentieth century. The disparate voices that echo in The Beforelife include Rene Char, Rainier Maria Rilke, and Ingeborg Bachmann—all of whom Wright has translated—as well as St. John of the Cross, Fernando Pessoa, John Clare, Kenji Miyazawa, Frank Stanford, and Bill Knott. But the echoes are faint; Wright's voice comes to us almost entirely sui generis. The result: half-surreal, half-aphoristic vignettes (the majority of his poems are, as Charles Simic has said, short enough to have been written on matchbook covers) that lurk quietly on the page and, in such a compact state, appear visually as if they were psalms.
Wright...fell back heavily on the mannerisms of his friend Robert Bly, the Spanish surrealists, the Chinese poets, and the German poets Trakl and Rilke." (from "The Vision of a Practical Man" by Rodney Jones: Parnassus: Poetry in Review, 1991, Vol. 16, Issue 2)
Another critical influence on Wright was Robert Bly, with whom he worked closely in Minnesota. Always more a theoretician than Wright, Bly vigorously advocated a new kind of poetry. [...] Bly argued strongly for a poetry that would take its energy from unconscious or archetypal imagery [...] This involvement with poetry in other languages led Bly and Wright toward a new American surrealism, which found its local voice as the "deep image." [...] The deep imagists, influenced by Jung as much as by Neruda, sought through poetry a direct access to the unconscious rather than impressionistic rendering of surface phenomenon. The image gathers force within the unconscious and connects with the reader on equally unconscious levels. (James Wright, by David C. Dougherty, Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1987)
In Wright's own sense of his development it was to the Austrian poet Georg Trakl more than to anyone else that he was most deeply indebted for the discipline of opening one's eyes, of being silent and listening and waiting patiently, as he phrased it in a brief essay on Trakl, "for the inward bodies of things to emerge, for the inward voices to whisper." (from "Wright's Lyricism" by Nathan Scott, Southern Review, Spring 91, Vol 27, Issue 2)
[O]ne cannot remark how reminiscent his accent of his early mentor, Theodore Roethke, particularly in his devotion to what Roethke called "the small things of the world." (from "Wright's Lyricism" by Nathan Scott, Southern Review, Spring 91, Vol 27, Issue 2)