Wednesday, December 6, 2017


As I've written of before, I ws a compulsive list maker all my life until a brain operation in 2009. I made lists in my head from the minute I woke up to the minute I fell asleep, usually using lists to fall asleep or fall back asleep.

I made lists of favorite movies and books and poems and people and so on, sometimes creating rules for them that made them extra challenging, like listing movies with five-syllable titles, or one, with each title beginning with a different letter of the alphabet, from A to Z.

Or I'd make little trinities, or triplets, that had some connection or submitted to some basic criterion... or I'd make list poems, or poems of lists.... And then after the brain operation I had no desire to make lists, and when I tried to force myself to, I'd get two things down and then lose interest.

But last night when I was falling asleep, I started to make a list of couplets made up of the poets and their poetry books that influenced me as a young poet and got to ten items relatively easily and thought, maybe it's coming back. So in the morning I wrote them down and added a few more for good measure.

Not earth shattering, but pretty sweet to have this comforting habit perhaps returning.

Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass
Emily Dickinson’s The Complete Poems

William Carlos Williams’s Paterson
Jean Toomer’s Cane

Charles Reznikoff’s By The Waters Of Manhattan
Louis Zukofsky’s A

Blaise Cendrars’ Selected Writings (New Directions 1962)
Muriel Rukeyser’s Selected Poems (the first New Directions version)

Diane diPrima’s Dinners & Nightmares
Frank O’Hara’s Lunch Poems

Jack Kerouac’s Mexico City Blues
Gary Snyder’s Rip Rap

John Ashbery’s Three Poems
James Schuyler’s The Crystal Lithium

Etheridge Knight’s Poems From Prison
Joanne Kyger’s Places To Go

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