Humans are birds that don’t fly …
— Mahmoud Darwish, from “The Hoopoe,” trans. by Fady Joudah, If I Were Another. (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2011)
be softer with you. you are a breathing thing. a memory to someone. a home to a life.
not really. what does that even mean.
I’VE BEEN WAITING TO GET THIS QUESTION MY WHOLE LITTLE LIFE ok well there are a lot and i’m gonna make this influences and just ppl i admire
in no particular order:
laura stevenson: her lyrics are at once haunting and childish, but not in the immature sense, in the ‘everything is possible and important and i will always believe in it’ sense. she’s the master of creating narrative art, but not linearly narrative. like she’ll describe images and characters, but sometimes they’re vague, and sometimes they’re unfinished, and sometimes they hop from moment to moment within the same line, but you always feel very much grounded in a specific, vivid situation. also the title of my blog comes from her song ‘finish piece’ as a lil funfact
frank o’hara: there will never be enough to say about him except that he is the best poet who ever lived and reading him has improved my writing more than anything ever. he taught me about the value of being recklessly experimental, the potency of simple sentences and diction, and how to convey emotion through action rather than adjectives. also his manipulation of syntax and parts of speech are revolutionary, he’s supes important
maria bamford: less of a comedian, more of a performance artist. for real though if you wanna be an inventive writer pay attention to maria bamford. she brilliantly juxtaposes the profound despair of living with the profound hilarity and absurdity of living and she fearlessly challenges the form and delivery and overall concept of what comedy can be, and she’s successful, which is important because it proves you can be as out there and introspective and obscure as your heart desires and there’s still a possibility mainstream audiences will accept you, bc she was able to do it. her standup makes me want to create meaningful art. also she’s so funny half the time you forget she’s talking about such morbid topics as mental illness and death and loneliness, so that’s really a talent
the front bottoms: the ultimate in confessional poetry. taught me turning your personal diary into art is a thing that can happen, and everyone’s diaries are so similar that a lot of times the more frank and un-poetic you are the better, because people will see themselves in your own unglamorous experiences. and without all the fancy trimmings of a sylvia plath or anne sexton poem (although they’re great in their own ways). taught me an adults only real job is to refuse to grow up.
courtney love/kathleen hannah: it’s okay to be vulgar & talk about ghosts & talk about dismembered limbs in boxes under a lovely boys bed. proof that a young girls’ experience in the world is a truly rare and fragile lens different than anyone else’s. also kathleen hannah did some spoken word before bikini kill and you should watch it (the poems themselves are meh but her delivery/raw emotion is revolutionary)
tao lin: yes sometimes he writes things that actually do suck, but the point is he’s not afraid to write things that suck because that’s what he wants to write and it’s what he believes in and it’s his movement so he owns it and a lot of the things he writes are strangely brilliant in an addictive, mundane sort of way. proof that no, your experiences may not be very interesting, but yes, people will read them, and yes, they will love it. an introverts anti-hero.
william faulkner william faulkner william faulkner: favorite writer of all time, introduced me to caddy compson who is the greatest character of all time, taught me that characters are what make a story/poem/anything great, not plot or imagery or word choice. character is where the emotion of a piece comes from. it’s how you talk about what you want and what you’re afraid of and what bothers you in a way that’s meaningful and not just venting on paper. the characters in ‘the sound and the fury’ especially are the most complex, lovable, detestable, cruel, passionate, ambivalent, tragic, beautiful, human characters i’ve ever encountered. the love interest/villian scarlet in the dumb book i’m writing is based on caddy/a few girls i know that have parts of her in them. this poem & this one & this one & this one are based on scenes from my dumb book if u wanna know what it’s about sort of
adam duritz: his live version of ‘round here’ is everything. the king of bathing his muses in a light that is honest, not flattering. isn’t afraid to be a stuttering stammering mess for the sake of emotion.
jean-michel basquiat: again, a moving combination of the dark and the innocent. his art is crude, intelligent, almost sub-conscious, like he did all his work while in the throes of a lucid dream. he gets to the root of things, and then, unlike most people who then take that skeletal shape and kind of fill it in with more recognizable, surface-y content, every aspect of the piece only thrusts the audience deeper into something both bizarre & jarring and primitively familiar. i’ve written like fifty poems based off his paintings so dont wanna link them all but he’s the only visual artist i’ve ever felt inspired by like directly from his paintings
also i’m gonna add to this as i think of people so it’ll just be a huge comprehensive list of ppl who make stuff that i think is cool