Another memorable reading was when Etheridge and poet Michael Lally read together and stuck around town for a few days. That was around 1979. Lally currently has an interesting and entertaining blog on the net, and is a very fine poet. Who are your favorite poets to read, and how have they influenced your writing? You mentioned the Beats earlier, but who else do you enjoy? Do you read contemporary poets?
I like to read all kinds of poetry and poets but mostly fairly contemporary things. And I’ve never read as much poetry as I should. I like a lot of women poets and think they are writing some of the best stuff around. Sharon Dubiago and Joy Harjo are two examples of many. A very early influence is ee cummings who I still like to read. I’ve noticed lately that he remains an influence on current young writers. Haiku was an early influence as I appeciated how simple images and ordinary language can have great power if written “just so”. Native American poets for the same reason. A list of poets I like would take up an entire page. I also am inspired by and enjoy being around local poets. I even like the bad stuff as it gives insight into what that person is feeling and thinking about, and what concerns them, and where they might be heading. Actually, I think that visual art and music has been more of an influence on my writing than poets I’ve read over the years, as I’ve always thought of poems as being word paintings. I’ve also been influenced by stand-up comedians. Good comedy and a good poem share a lot in common. Both have to have some interesting turns of words, timing and rhythm, an element of surprise, and a good ending.
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