Some of my favorite poets are Anna Akhmatova, C.P. Cavafy, Yannis Ritsos, Jean Follain, and Horace. I feel these have influenced my writing and find it interesting that they're all in translation. I've never read their work in their own languages.

Also in my list of favorites are poets I wish had influenced me more, but you'd never confuse my writing for theirs. They include Sylvia Plath, James Dickey, Rumi, Anne Carson, Kamau Brathwaite, Nikki Giovanni, Allen Grossman, Larry Levis, Rodney Jones, Etheridge Knight, Louise Glück, Carl Phillips, and Wallace Stevens.

I always mention Virginia Woolf in my list of favorite poets even though she's not a poet.

More recently I've discovered a couple of writers I'd include in the top of my list—Christopher Gilbert (he's at the very top!) and Max Ritvo.


Some books I've happened on through a sense of serendipity. They connected because of where I was in my life. Others were recommendations or gifts from friends and so have meaning for me in part because of that.

Those I've listed are all special to me, books I go back to. Some of them I even disagree with in places. But they still resonate, and they help me reconnect when I'm feeling at a loss, or they help me break old ways of thinking.

I've listed them below in no particular order…



  • Sylvia Plath, Ariel

  • Christopher Gilbert, Turning into Dwelling

  • James Dickey, Poems 1957-1967

  • Rumi, The Essential Rumi

  • Etheridge Knight, The Essential Etheridge Knight

  • Jean Follain, Transparence of the World

  • Kamau Brathwaite, Sun Poem (found in Ancestors)

  • Yannis Ritsos, Selected Poems

  • Anna Akhmatova, The Complete Poems

  • Anne Carson, Glass, Irony & God

  • C.P. Cavafy, Passions and Ancient Days

  • Edward Thomas, Collected Poems

  • Edgar Lee Masters, Spoon River Anthology

  • Nikki Giovanni, Cotton Candy on a Rainy Day

  • Elizabeth Bishop, The Complete Poems

  • Sappho, If Not, Winter, Fragments of Sappho

  • Wallace Stevens, The Collected Poems

  • Allen Grossman, The Ether Dome and Other Poems

  • Stanley Plumly, Summer Celestial

  • Yusef Komunyakaa, Dien Cai Dau

  • Molly Peacock, Cornucopia

  • Max Ritvo, Four Reincarnations

  • Alojz Ihan (poems found in Double Vision: Four Slovenian Poets)

  • Emily Dickinson, The Complete Poems


  • Haruki Murakami, After the Quake

  • André Alexis, Fifteen Dogs

  • Albert Camus, The Plague

  • Franz Kafka, The Trial

  • Marguerite Duras, The Lover, Wartime Notebooks, Practicalities

  • Ella Cara Deloria, Waterlily

  • Gabriel Fielding, In the Time of Greenbloom

  • Virginia Woolf, Moments of Being, The Waves, Mrs. Dalloway

  • James Baldwin, Go Tell It on the Mountain

  • Sherman Alexie, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

  • Hyemeyohsts Storm, Seven Arrows

  • Leo Tolstoy, The Death of Evan Ilych, Anna Karenina

  • Viktor Frankl, Man's Search for Meaning

  • Roma Nutkiewicz Ben-Atar, What Time and Sadness Spared

  • Martin Buber, I and Thou

  • Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man

  • Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being

  • Martin Luther King, Strength to Love

  • Azar Nafisi, Reading Lolita in Tehran

  • Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince

  • Norman Lindsay, The Magic Pudding

  • Shaun Tan, The Arrival (Yes, I know this book has no words. That's part of the appeal.)

About Poetry and Art

  • Muriel Rukeyser, A Life of Poetry

  • David Kalstone, Becoming a Poet

  • Walter Pater, The Renaissance

  • Longinus on the Sublime