A question of influences

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 thought on “A question of influences

  1. 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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