I was asked to write this post because I am a novelist, but I keep wanting to come to it as a teacher. My day job is that of college instructor, and although the vast majority of the classes I teach are the dreaded (and required) freshman composition courses, I occasionally get to sneak some poetry into my lesson plans. I haven’t written poetry since college—like many authors, I dabbled in verse, then moved on to short stories and then finally novels, where I really found my comfort zone—but I still love to read it. I actually think all fiction writers should read poetry, because poetry, with its focus on rhythm and imagery and the economy of words, can teach us lessons about prose and—yes, I’m going to say it—storytelling that a thousand novels never could.
With this post, I want to share and discuss some of the poems that have inspired and influenced me as a novelist. Most of them are contemporary poems, poems that I read on a whim—either while flipping through a class textbook, or by stumbling across them on the Internet—and all of them have taught me something about writing.~ read more ~