Paul Graham Raven
In addition to the usual suspects, the poets I return to regularly – for pleasure and brain-cleansing as often as inspiration, to be honest – are Allen Ginsberg (who needs no introduction), the late Edwin Morgan (who shouldn’t need any introduction, especially to readers of sf, but regrettably often does), and Ted Hughes (who I can clearly see is a troubled and troublesome human being in many ways, but whose poems read like he’s was carving the words into your temporal lobes with a quill made of pure flame).
That’s pretty much it for now, I think… with the caveat that, as with all these sorts of questions, next week’s answers could be completely different. 🙂
I hereby confess that I never liked Bob Dylan very much, apart from “Lay,Lady, Lay” and the final, jazz-like tune on New Morning.
But John Clute is right about this:
Like Michael (Dirda) and (I suspect) Peter (Straub) and others talking here, there is a hemi-demi-semi-iambic pentameter ostinato running through what we write, fiction or nonfiction, which needs constant violation (like what gardeners do) to stay alive. Out of this basic pulse of story, for me, the tags emerge like dolphins:
Karen Joy Fowler
To the wonderful lists of poets already cited here (cannot wait to read what you write about Larkin, Michael D) I love Louise Bogan, Louise Gluck, and recent Pulitzer winner, Kay Ryan.
Yes, Louise Bogan and Louise Gluck, I love them both, as well. Geoffrey Hill, too, especially Mercian Hymns.
Guy Gavriel Kay
No Dylan, no Dillard, a traitor to your generation, Peter. Dylan Thomas, at least? Or at least when you were young?
But it’s okay, I have some real issues with Larkin as poet and vogue. Have worked at him since undergrad and am (mostly) giving myself permission to wind down. I note that Auden, in an intro to a Cavafy edition wrote of how a poet’s ‘sensibility’ could come through, even in translation (Bellos says much more can). And Cavafy (and Seferis, even more) elicit that affinity in me, for example. Larkin feels pinched, sour, curtailed … yes, his England was these things, and he may ‘show it to us’, but … Seferis had the same war and an even more appalling aftermath, and it grew him, heartbreakingly. I am not even getting into the brouhaha on ‘Larkin as bad racist man’ post-Motion and Letters … because there are so many writers we admire, some cited here, who were dreadful people. Rilke, for one.
I did like a bunch of Dylan Thomas poems when I was young and uneasy under the apple boughs. Then in Dublin I met some poets who flat-out imitated Thomas, and they somehow revealed to me that he was nowhere as great as I’d thought.
But speaking of being a traitor to my generation… after I reached the age of fourteen, I was never able really to bear Elvis Presley.