Wednesday, 19 May 2021

Anna Press : part three

What poets changed the way you thought about writing?

Recently I’ve been thinking a lot about sonnets so I must mention Dorothy Chan, who is doing incredible things with sonnets. Her double and triple sonnets blow me away. 

The honest answer to this question is that the way I think about writing changes the more I read, which I think is a beautiful thing! So here is a very incomplete list of additional writers whose work excites me and makes me think (I have not limited this to poets, but most of them are): Linda Gregg, Chen Chen, Aria Aber, Ilya Kaminsky, Danez Smith, Kaveh Akbar, Rebecca Solnit, Virginia Woolf, Jeanette Winterson, Ross Gay, Kathy Fish, Ocean Vuong, Ada Limon, Mary Oliver, Mary Ruefle, CD Wright, and Brendan Constantine (a former teacher of mine who I am now lucky to call a friend).

The first writer who really changed the game for me in terms of what writing could make possible was Anne Carson. I read Autobiography of Red in high school and it completely changed my life; it’s become that book I re-read about once a year, and it was the first book I started setting aside in a place of honor on my bookshelf, where I now collect writing that I learn from or notice something new about every time I return to it. Some of the others in that stack are Carmen Maria Machado’s short story collection, Her Body and Other Parties (In the Dream House would be there too except my husband has claimed our copy for his desk), Patricia Highsmith’s The Price of Salt, Maggie Nelson’s The Argonauts, and Bluets, James Baldwin’s Giovanni’s Room (my copy from college, annotated), Alexander Chee’s How to Write an Autobiographical Novel and Edinburgh, and Garth Greenwell’s Cleanness

I’m also currently reading Lidia Yuknavitch’s The Chronology of Water, and Mathew Salesses’ Craft in the Real World, both of which will join that collection when I’m done.

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