“The first and most visible source of inspiration for my poems is other poems. A less voluble influence is abstract art.
In this online exclusive we ask authors to share books, art, music, writing prompts, films—anything and everything—that has inspired them in their writing. We see this as a place for writers to turn to for ideas that will help feed their creative process.
“To break from the heavy lifting of writing moderately vulgar dark comedies, first I will turn to Rimbaud’s Une Saison en enfer for some light reading. Then I will wander outside to see if there are any important public gatherings.
“If you’re writing a book that no one is waiting for, buy the debut album of an indie band—not the latest darlings, but an underappreciated act
“The best advice I ever got about writing was from Stephen King’s memoir, On Writing, in which he talks about the writer’s need to be ‘willing’ to shut the door on the world for a few hours a day.
“Lately I’ve been listening to Homer’s Odyssey on CD. Listening to classics on CDs is a part of my yoga practice.
“(1) Most important, I recommend patience—which I have to remind myself of all the time. So often, I get excited about a poem in progress and start to spin my wheels, which I do for a week or two until it’s time to set the poem aside.
“Storytellers inspire me. I listen intently then let my imagination take over. Characters need to be fully rendered in my head before they make it into any story. I try to read new writers, but there are a few books I return to again and again.
“I’m teaching a class this term on Dirty Realism, the fiction movement that may or may not have existed twenty or thirty years ago, and my own syllabus has brought me to Jayne Anne Phillips's Black Tickets,
“A good soak in a bathtub invigorates the senses, relaxes the muscles and allows the mind to wander.
“Listen to the soundtracks of Giorgio Moroder. Visit the Rubin Museum of Art. Open to any page of The Mariner’s Dictionary. Sit in churches that watch over cities. Stand in trains that run under rivers.