Reading to Become a Better Writer

So pretty much every creative writing teacher will tell you that you need to READ in order to improve your writing. Study the modern poetry world! Read collections, subscribe to literary magazines, emerse yourself and become inspired.

It's true, I know I know... and I simply do not do enough of it myself.

So last week I got on amazon and ordered a few new poetry releases. I ordered Addonizio's latest book, Lucifer at Starlight (something like that), Laux's latest release, Facts About the Moon, and Anna Journey's (newish) book, If Birds Gather in Your Hair for Nesting.

I thought Journey's would be the most helpful to me, in my current state. I need to read someone who is doing what I NEED to be be doing, publishing their first full collection of poems and working on a PhD (maybe she finished her's already, but while she was writing the book she was in the program).

So I've been reading it today, yesterday, and such. The poems are so unbelievably rich in imagary, and dense in content. She'll weave two stories into one poem, tie them together with a common image, wild! I have to read her poems several times to really 'get' them (no I'm not very smart, I'm actually a pretty slow reader), and it seems like on every read through I discover something deeper, more magical, about the words. Ah...

And looking back at my own writing, how can I... ehm.... be more like her? I mean, if only I could, right? That's not really the idea when you read and admire someone else's work, but I think it's only natural to somewhat emulate them. And it's a good thing. I can feel her writing influencing my freewrites. I'm trying to make my language more dense now, more rich in color, feeling, story. And she'll use an image more than once, like expand on it in a different poem. I like that. I hate the idea that once I use an image it's gone, like a little packet of cream. Boo.

So anyway, my freewriting session today was preceeded by reading some Journey, some Addonizio, and I think my writing is really benefiting from the experience. Here's a portion of my writing from today:

.... All I knew

is that your skin made mine tingle – and my peeking curves
made your eyes burst to life like peony, underneath a blanket

of heavy rain. And so you came in - a barrage
of sunbeams, Barefoot wine, trembling tongue. Never

mind the ash that dripped from the tip of your cigarette.
Never mind how it rested in a fine nest of my blonde hair.

Right? Getting more FULL. Yay.

So lesson for today, go buy a collection of poems. Especially from a poet who is relatively new.

Another good thing - my copy of If Birds Gather in Your Hair for Nesting was signed my Anna herself :) :) :) What a treat.