Poetry has always felt intimate to me as I mainly use it to express and explain my inner thoughts and feelings. My work tends to be driven by my emotions and the way I analyze (or overanalyze) them. In that sense, I’d say the main source for my writing is really just my interest in balancing and understanding myself in relation to essentially everything else; I write to make my thoughts and feelings more tangible to myself and and I write to see how the world around me effects my behavior and vice versa. I’m also decently confident in my writing abilities, so there is a sense of pride and comfort attached to writing that motivates me to continue working.
I believe that as modes of expression go, voices heavily impact the way people are perceived and understood. My own speaking voice has always felt a bit lackluster to me. Moving around a lot during my youth never let me latch on to any dialect in particular and my speech patterns tend to be fairly awkward. Poetry and creative writing in general, however, let me express myself more succinctly and even allows me to create new personas for myself. I write to have a voice for when it’s difficult to verbalize.
People whom I admire also influence me. With poetry, I enjoy listening to slam poets (Phil Kaye and Sarah Kay are two favorites). Attempting to duplicate their styles using my own experiences or create something that I find equally compelling to hear are fun challenges for me. With stories, I enjoy being given prompts by people whose work and/or knowledge impress me—professors, fellow writers—or attempting to create interesting worlds or characters reminiscent of those from my favorite books1. I love watching standup comedians, especially sarcastic ones, so any humor in my work is in part because of people like Maria Bamford and Mitch Hedberg.
The final and arguably strongest source would be musical influences. I’m interested in the way that sounds and phrases can produce something lovely. Many of my poems are lyrical and rhythmic. It’s very inspiring when I hear a song that tells a story poetically2 or alters my mood with a particular beat; it makes me want to do something similar. That’s why I enjoy listening to alternative and indie music (Glass Animals, Passenger, Tora, Nothing but Thieves, Damien Rice). There aren’t any many limitations in either art form, which feels freeing from a creative standpoint (as much as I like setting goals and achieving them, I don’t appreciate being boxed in).
1 I love Tolkien’s intricate descriptions of Middle Earth, young characters that discover themselves like in “Ask the Passengers” by A.S. King, and the complex relationships from stories such as Lisa Jensen’s “Alias Hook.”
2 By poetically, I mean both having beautiful qualities and utilizing the techniques often associated with poetry like rhyming and figurative language. I personally enjoy using these techniques in prose too, as I feel it adds depth.