I just finished reading John Densomore's book, Riders on the Storm. As I was reading, I thought a lot about how much Morrison's poetry influenced my own as I was growing in to my voice. That lead me to think about who his influences were, and inevitably to asking who were my own.
There's a very popular music app for the iPad called "Planetary." This app visualizes each music artist as a star, then visualizes all their albums that you have downloaded as planets, and each song from those albums as a moon. It's much more visually arresting than my description makes it seem, I promise. It makes your music collection in to a cluster of stars, a home galaxy that you live within, sonically.
If you were to think about the authors you love most, the ones whose voices guide you in your own work and their poems or novels in that same way, you would have a galaxy, a set of literary constellations that influence you, help you navigate your artistic life.
So, here are is a map of my literary galaxy (as best as I can tell so far)*:
- Chuck Palahniuk
- David Bowie
- Bret Easton Ellis
- Jim Morrison (mostly his poetry, but his aesthetic interest in the role of the Shaman and the priest of Dionysus)
- Ernest Hemingway
- Dennis Cooper
- Jim Carroll
- Irvine Welsh
- Philip K. Dick
- William S. Burroughs
- Allen Ginsberg
- William Butler Yeats (especially "The Second Coming" and "Sailing to Byzantium")
- Walt Whitman
- Robert Frost
What I find most interesting reading this list just now is that I consider myself a feminist, and yet there are no women on the list. I don't know what that says, but it's interesting to me.
If your a writer whose reading this, who are the stars in your own galaxy?
*= you'll note that the list also contains some music artists--this is because these artists have influenced my writing through their lyrics/aesthetic values