Thursday, March 12, 2009


i got tagged by the moan man to come up with a list of 25 writers who i think have most influenced me. this is tricky– it’s a fine line between admiration and influence sometimes, and i usually only become acutely aware of a writer’s influence when what i’m writing starts to feel like a lame imitation of someone i really respect. that said, here’s a list, in no particular order, of my influential writers, with “influential writers” loosely defined as “those whose works consistently inspire/challenge/entertain/move me, whose works remind me how common words can be assembled into brilliant works of art, whose works i never get tired of.”

1. Ernest Hemmingway
2. e.e. cummings
3. James Baldwin
4. Edgar Allan Poe
5. William Blake
6. Bob Dylan
7. Shel Silverstein
8. Shane MacGowan
9. Walt Whitman
10. Sean “Slug” Daley
11. Gabriel García Márquez
12. Lawrence Ferlinghetti
13. Charles Bukowski
14. Arthur Miller
15. Lead Belly
16. Khalil Gibran
17. Christina Rossetti
18. Dalton Trumbo
19. Maya Angelou
20. O. Henry
21. Tom Waits
22. Gary Soto
23. Kenzaburo Oe
24. Paul of Tarsus

number 25 is blank because i’m sure i missed someone, and it’s probably more obvious to you than to me – so, let me ask you – who do you think influences my writing? please know i am genuinely interested, impossible to offend, and do, in fact, want to hear your opinion.

and (you know – tags - s'posed to have 3) i’d like to see such a list compiled by:

Julie Buffaloe-Yoder
K. Lawson Gilbert
Scott Ennis


Karen said...

Believe it or not ...Carl Sandburg. Read Jazz Fantasia or Chicago. Old Carl was cool.

K.Lawson Gilbert said...

Add Robert Louis Stevenson to your list. You, like he, have that perceptiveness and sharp sense of the world and people around you.
Your range as a writer is so wide, like Stevenson, who wrote everything from "A Child's Garden of Verses" to "The Strange Case of Dr. Jekull and Mr. Hyde."

Your writing style is similar to his - not just in the wonderful sense of rhyming, but in your use of narrative description - and you write everything from fabulous quaint verse to scary supernatural, just like he did!

I know you must have read, Treasure Island, Kidnapped, The Master of Ballantrae - Jekyll and Hyde....

Thanks for including me in on the fun, my friend! I will comply, fully, early next week. It will take me till then to pare down my list! LOL!

K.Lawson Gilbert said...

P.S. - You have some real "heavyweights" on your list. Wow! I KNEW you were well read when I "met" you. ;P

Moanerplicity said...

Wow! Love the diversity in the names and genres. I KNEW some of those Beat cats would make an appearance on your list, along with a romantic poet or two.

Wow! Gary Soto? Dig Gary Soto! We share a history of being Featured Poet in the same lit mag (Haight Ashbury Literary Journal) back in the 90s. & since that time I've followed his career. Go Gary!

Thanks for following through on this one, my friend.

As for your 25th name... hmmmm... tricky indeed. Well, without being privy to your personal stash or library faves, what often strikes me about your writing is its inherent wit. It's not always light, sometimes dark, but consistently present. So, in that sense, I'd say that perhaps Oscar Wilde was an influence, whether consciously, or unconsciously.

* ponders*

Thanks again.



joaquin carvel said...

i am humbled, heartened, and blown away right now.

karen - i love sandburg - someone lent me “harvest poems” a number of years ago – had to actually steal it back from me - i just realized i can still recite “happiness” and “grass” by remembering the actual pages, if that’s any indication. thank you for pointing me to “chicago” and “jazz fantasia” – old carl was incredible – thank you for reminding me and for honoring me by his name.

k. – i feel i don’t have a “voice” like many others do, in the sense of a distinctive or recognizable style – or at least a consistent one – which i often think of as a weakness. but you’re right – just about every book of stevenson’s is a classic – and his range was just as impressive as his writing. “treasure island” was one of the first “real” books (more words than pictures) i remember reading – that his name came to mind in this context is both amazing and profoundly reassuring. thank you. (i’ve probably read more than i had to – but still not as well- read as i’d like to be.)

lin – you know i can’t slight an honor like that, right? i had to read one of soto’s poems in high school – went out and bought one of his books the next day. it was probably my first encounter with “working class” poetry, and definitely the first time i read someone talk about orange groves in california the way thoreau talked about the woods in massachusetts. how great (and fitting) that you were a featured poet alongside him.

and oscar wilde - i’d read funnier things than “the importance of being earnest”, but i had never seen a wit like his – he could use it to be clever, sad, amusing, satirical, sharp – thank you for seeing his shadow in these.

Julie said...

I love your list. I can see these influences in your writing. You may not think so, but I think you have a very distinct voice. It is wonderful. You also have a wide range of styles, and I love that.

The names that I think of when I think of your work are already on your list. William Blake comes to mind instantly. e.e. cummings or Ferlinghetti for the playfulness of language.

I've been trying to do a list, but I'm having a hard time narrowing it to 25. I'm probably just thinking of people I admire. But I'll let you know what I come up with. Thanks for another great post. This is fun to think about.

trooping with crows said...

Hey, Joaquin. Just wanted to say that I am happy William Blake made your list. I've been inspired by his art lately. And Tom! My husband actually teaches with a guy whose wife dated him! That's about the extent of my claim to Fame! (well, there was that time I met Ozzy...)
Great list in it's diversity.

Anonymous said...

Dr. Suess ---