Books That Matter.



I just discovered For Southern Boys Who Consider Poetry (When Soul Food Isn’t Enough), the blog of poet Saeed Jones. One of his recent posts was a list of Books that Matter, and he’s also posted some responses he’s got from his readers. I thought this was a pretty sweet idea, so here are my Books That Matter. I really hope you’ll tell me yours, too - whether it’s one book that particularly touched you or twenty that you think changed your writing. I’d really like to do what Saeed did and post your responses on the blog, so please do respond. I know you’re all reading - you need just to comment now and again!

Books that influenced my poetry:
Dreaming Frankenstein by Liz Lochhead // Mean Time by Carol Ann Duffy // Ruin and Beauty by Patricia Young // Nine Horses by Billy Collins // The World’s Wife by Carol Ann Duffy // The Boy Who Taught The Beekeeper To Read by Susan Hill // The Unswept Room by Sharon Olds // Another Country by Jane Griffiths

Books that taught me things I didn’t know about poetry:
Why I Am Not A Painter by Frank O Hara // Howl and Other Poems by Allen Ginsberg // Somebody, Somewhere by Alan Gillis // Kaddish and Other Poems by Allen Ginsberg // The Birthday Letters by Ted Hughes // Love is a Dog from Hell by Charles Bukowski

Wow… that’s weird. All my ‘teachers’ are men, and all but one of my influences are women. What does that say?

Tell me your lists - which books made you the poet you are? Which books changed your poetry, influenced your poetry, or helped your poetry? Which books matter to you? (Don’t forget to check out Saeed’s blog!)

(Photo by Mintlips)

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5 Responses to “Books That Matter.”

  1. Katja Nikula Says:

    I almost feel like I’ve not read enough to be able to say what matters to me, or what has influenced me, but these do come to mind:

    Important to me personally:
    The Front Runner by Patricia Nell Warren, Punainen Erokirja by Pirkko Saisio, Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami, Moonwalk by Michael Jackson.

    (though I haven’t really written anything in years) Writing related:
    On Writing by Stephen King, The Diary of Virginia Woolf, Part 1 by Virginia Woolf.

  2. Charlotte R Says:

    Books that have influenced my writing:

    The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald // The Boy From The Chemist Is Here To See You by Paul Farley // The Harbour Beyond The Movie by Luke Kennard // Selected Poems of T. S. Eliot // Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys // Ariel by Sylvia Plath (though sometimes I wouldn’t like to admit it…) // Beowulf // Sir Gawain and the Green Knight // A Shropshire Lad by A. E. Housman // Making Cocoa for Kingsley Amis by Wendy Cope

    Probably lots more, but basically I have realised I am a plagiarist! “Influence” is a very forgiving word :p

  3. Rob Says:

    I just like any excuse to make a list. So…

    1. Poetry Collections that are important to me:
    Harmonium - Wallace Stevens
    Collected Poems - James Schuyler
    New Collected Poems - Tomas Transtromer
    New Collected Poems - W.S. Graham
    The Throne of the Third Heaven of the Nations Millennium General Assembly - Denis Johnson
    Collected Poems - T.S. Eliot
    View with a Grain of Sand - Wislawa Szymborska
    Collected Poems - Edwin Morgan
    Selected Poems and Prose - Gerard Manley Hopkins

    2. Books about poetry that are important to me:
    The Truth of Poetry - Michael Hamburger
    20th Century Pleasures - Robert Hass
    Lives of the Poets - Michael Schmidt
    Best Words, Best Order - Stephen Dobyns
    After Confession - Kate Sontag and David Graham
    The Sounds of Poetry - Robert Pinsky

  4. Rachel Fox Says:

    Your male/female influence/teacher split is interesting! Very interesting!
    And Collins…an honorary woman? I don’t think he’d object…
    x

  5. One Night Stanzas » Blog Archive » Books that Matter: your lists! Says:

    [...] you may remember that quite a while I wrote this post… and promised to share YOUR ‘Books that Matter’… but I forgot. But [...]