An Unquiet Mind– Kay Redfield Jamison
The focus on internality in Jamison’s memoir very much informed my own sense of reflection in my own memoiristic piece. I found the way Jamison uses and then openly discusses the use of language in her text to be especially provocative and interesting. The dissection of and reflection on language is something I have seen appear across the board in my own work, manifesting in one way or another. Jamison’s way of examining language is especially straightforward and clear, while maintaining a sort of flowery and poetic sense of voice, which makes the text an engaging read and an inspirational use of craft.
The Beauty of the Husband– Anne Carson
The prosaic and narrative elements of Carson’s work in combination with her stylistic experiments within those parameters have intrigued and motivated me in my own craft. The way Carson employs emphasis on thematically repetitive dialogue and interactions between a speaker and an “other” is something that has inspired a similar approach in much of my own poetry, most specifically in the set of poetry book-ended by the two “Plato’s Forbidden Art” poems. Additionally from this work, I was inspired to incorporate outer-referential terms within the same set of my own poems, in order to help articulate elements of emotion, as Carson so memorably does in this text.
“Ellen West”- Frank Bidart
This poem is one I have found myself reading over and over despite its length. I truly admire its fascinating balance between the use of lyrical language with its brushing up against being a more prosaic form of poetry. Bidart accomplishes a narrative clarity and sets a series of actions and plot developments into motion while still incorporating more poetic elements based in structure and repeated subject matter. The point of view shifts in the poem are also an admirable authorial skill, one that I do not often broach, as I feel I could not capture that sort of internal clarity in another with my verse, though I would like to experiment with a more fictionalized realm at some point.
Reading Lolita in Tehran- Azar Nafisi
I first read this self-described fictionalized memoir in an anthropology class, but absorbed quite a bit from both the book’s content and its structure. Nafisi’s careful use of detail combined with her distanced and reflective, but first-person, narrative style was remarkably effective in the way it brought readers into very intimate moments between characters. In my own memoir, intimacy is a point of heavy concentration, and I was able to better articulate those moments after establishing a concept of what successfully articulates intimacy to an outer audience.
“Regarding the Electric Chair My Wife’s College Boyfriend Built in His Apartment”- Dave Griffith
This essay, which was one of my first realized introductions to the personal essay, has always stuck with me in terms of it’s use of structure. The balance of narrative and discursive and the alternation and thematic connection between the two was so well constructed. In attempting a sort of similar writing style, I gained a new appreciation for the complexity of building a successful personal essay and writing about oneself. The early attempt at creative non-fiction, oddly, left me with the impulse towards poetry as opposed to prose in order to sort out my own inner-workings. To this day, I feel a more intense clarity while writing poetry, and then using the ideas articulated in the resulting poetry to transform to a prosaic description of the ideas and emotions. While I am not exactly certain of the details of the content without reminder, I find the piece worth mentioning. I consider this essay by Griffith to be one with an especially strong impact on my own creative process in a multitude of ways.
Trances of the Blast– Mary Ruefle
Ruefle’s poetry in this work is remarkable in the amount of creative license and free-associational personal thinking that it includes. Trances of the Blast asks a great amount of the reader, as often times there is a clear pattern, or sometimes even narrative, that resolves itself in a sort of hazy unclarity. The details, at first peruse, often seem random and sometimes out of place, though the work as a whole has similar thematic elements and images and ideas that reoccur as well. What I admire most in the Ruefle’s work here is her dedication to the importance of keeping poetry personal, if even not exactly clear to an outer audience. I, too, like to work with a certain sense of ambiguity, though my own use is heavy; Ruefle’s careful balance of the ambiguous with the clear is something I strive toward in my own expressions.