A question of influences

01/21/2008  by Nan Klingener  1 Comment

At almost every literary event I’ve attended, writers are asked about their influences. This might get tiresome to them but it sometimes yields interesting results. At a panel (Friday? I think it was Friday), Billy Collins led a conversation with Kevin Young and Meghan O’Rourke. This was the occasion of Young’s now-famous iPhone reading.
The three poets started talking about influences on their work. The greats were mentioned: Wordsworth, Dickinson, Hughes, Ashbery. Then Billy pointed out that influences can also be “extraliterary”: “Looney Tunes and Merry Melodies cartoons were as influential on my imagination as any poetry I read.”


One Response

  1. Jason Rowan says:

    When Billy asked the same question of the Edmund White moderated panel at the end of the first session (I heard his term as “extra-literary”) and Patrick Ryan weighed in with his story of being inspired by John Boy’s writing career on The Waltons, I couldn’t help but think of Billy’s reference to Johnny Hartman songs in one of his poem’s. In fact, music seemed to be the chief extra-literary inspiration listed.

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