Friday, 5 March 2021

Christopher Merrill : part two

How did you first engage with poetry?

I was born in Amherst, Massachusetts; hence I wish I could say that Emily Dickinson was my first tutelary spirit. But as a teenager I was drawn to Richard Brautigan, Kurt Vonnegut, and Herman Hesse, and then I began to fall in love with one poet after another, including W. S. Merwin, Elizabeth Bishop, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Mark Strand, John Berryman, Charles Wright, and so on. Marvin Bell liked to say, “Read a poem, write a poem,” and that is what I still do.

Thirty years ago, I published Norman Dubie’s collection of aphorisms, The Clouds of Magellan, one of which is central to my thinking about the nature of a literary apprenticeship:

If you are a young writer who admires the work of a single older writer, then you are in great danger. Admire the work of two older writers, or more. Give your mind a problem and your mind, without permission, will solve that problem.



No comments:

Post a Comment