I’m participating in a reading challenge this year which I hope will have a positive effect on my writing. The challenge is to read 52 poetry books in 2011, an idea which came from @TheAmericanPoet on Twitter. Roughly, that’s 4 poetry books a month. I consider myself an avid reader, but reading 52 poetry books in a year is a stretch, like a serious stretch. If I get half the way through, I will feel accomplished.
I’ve already identified the first 4 poetry collections I plan to read.
1. Lighthead by Terrance Hayes
2. Sonata Mulattica by Rita Dove
3. Paper House by Jessie Carty
4. A Wreath for Emmett Till by Marilyn Nelson
Some folks say that it’s problematic for them to read the works of others while working on their own writing, but I hope that by reading so much poetry, I’ll be influenced by it. Who wouldn’t want to be influenced by a poet who has won the National Book Award, or was a former U.S. Poet Laureate? I wish somebody would read some of my writing and say, “Oh, your poem reminds me of one I read from Marylin Nelson.” Sounds like a complement to me.
If you think of any great poetry collections that I should read, leave me a comment.