T.S. Eliot and Emily Dickinson are two of my favorite poets, poets that inspired me to be a poet and quite likely affect everything I write, poetry or not.
I remember instantly falling in love with The Wasteland. The Wasteland is my first love - in terms of poems. As a teenager, I read it repeatedly. I then took to reading it out loud to my older sister, absolutely convinced that if she heard it enough times, she too would fall in love with it. She looked like she would punch me if I read another word, but I persevered and read until the end. "Did you love that?" I asked. "Not really," she said more than once.
I knew she was wrong - she just didn't get it yet. After several attempts over several years to make her love it, she told me, yes, she definitely did like it - maybe just to make me stop, maybe not. Maybe I will get her a fresh copy next Christmas just to see the look on her face. I am certain she hasn't forgotten the poetry readings I forced on her more than twenty years ago.
Emily Dickinson has had a profound and more direct impact on my poetry. Do not get me wrong here, I am not saying I'm as good a poet as Emily Dickinson. I am just a wanna-be. I think from sheer immersion, from reading her poems over and over again and taking maybe just a few too many American Transcendentalist Lit. classes in college, I hear her song when I want to say something poetic and make her rhythm my own without meaning to. It all flows out of me like "I felt a funeral in my brain," but with different and quite likely less cool words.