Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Essence and similarity

Sitting on a bus today I found myself wondering if you can write anything without being influenced by things that you have read to a greater or lesser extent?  Since starting my series of domestic poems I have been reading Tender Buttons by Gertrude Stein, Species of Spaces and Other Pieces by Georges Perec and Recyclopedia: S*PeRM**K*T, and Muse & Drudge by Harryette Mullen. I had already read quite a bit of Charles Simic and Vasko Popa.  I am not consciously emulating any of these writers in my work, but I do believe that we are (at lease subtly and sometimes more so) influenced by the things that we have read - especially if we find them inspiring - if they speak to us in a language that excites us and that we can relate to.

What is interesting to me is that some of the earlier poems in the domestic object series have a similar sound and feel to some of the pieces in Tender Buttons - and these were the ones that I wrote before I started reading it. This led me to wonder whether there is some innate quality in these inanimate domestic objects that is somehow tapped into and embodied by anyone who tries to tap into the essence of them through writing.  If you try to capture the true essence of an object is it inevitable that there will be some similarity to other work where the writer has tried to do the same thing?  Does this similarity make the work any less valid?

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