I’ve spent some time thinking about how to answer the question, “Who’s Reading What?” And I’ve concluded that, as a poet, what I read is predominantly poetry, and what spurs me often to begin to write is the cadence in the poems I read from the work of others. For many months I read Linda Gregg’s books over and over. Her rhythm and flow would enter my ear and I found I could write from that flow, though the subject of my poem would be different from Gregg’s. Aside from being a poet, I’m also a musician; I play piano and guitar, and I sing. Lately, I’ve been reading Philip Levine’s later poems; the cadence of the poems, from The Mercy, News of the World, and Simple Truth slips into my ear, and my ear begins to put words together, on a different subject, but with the echo of a cadence in my head. I’ve also picked up the cadence of a Pablo Neruda poem or the quiet, deliberate cadence of a William Stafford poem. If there’s something in the subconscious that my brain is working on and reading the da Da da Da of a line of poetry begins to bring up a line or an image from the creative soup deep in my head, then I realize I have a poem and need to start on it before I lose the inspiration.
I hope that answers the question, and I hope others find inspiration in the music and rhythm of the poetic line.
Pamela Porter‘s work has won over a dozen prizes, including the Governor General’s award. She resides with gratitude on the traditional lands of the W‐SÁNEĆ peoples on Vancouver Island.