I suspect that each of us can identify poets and writers who have had significant influence on our writing. Perhaps some of these who mentor us, whether or not they are aware of their influence, enjoy renown—Poet Laureates, Pulitzer or Nobel Prize winners, for example. Others may be more obscure poets or even those we have met in our blogging communities.
Those of us who have not had the advantage of higher education in our art still have the opportunity to learn independently by reading books on craft of writing and, above all, by drinking in the work of those we admire. Read, read, read is perhaps the wisest advice offered to writers of all ilk. My addiction to the intoxicating world of literary art is supported by the ease of access offered by the Internet and through my Kindle which offers free downloads of so many of our predecessors.
I invite you to take a moment, a pencil, and a piece of paper. Now, sit back and list a dozen or so wordsmiths whose art has helped shape your own. Here’s a sampling of those whom I’ve come up with: Mary Oliver, Jane Kenyon, Stanley Kunitz, Basho, William Wordsworth, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Jane Hirschfield, Robert Frost, William Carlos Williams, Wallace Stevens, Ted Kooser, Dorianne Laux,…oh, and I haven’t even started to think about you who I’ve encountered on the Internet.
A literary allusion in poetry is, simply put, a reference to another literary work. This can encompass sources such as mythology, the Bible, performance art, a novel, visual art or a poem. Think of it as a sort of hypertext, linking the reader to another piece of literature, art, or any form of creative expression. Examples of literary allusion also include ekphrasis and response poetry. Perhaps you are familiar with ekphrasis, when a work of visual art serves as the inspiration for a poem. A response poem is written, as it implies, in response to another poet, a sort of answering-back.
I will use a couple of my own poems as an example so that I don’t mess with copyright infringement.
A Response to Robert Frost’s Fire and Ice:
What Do You Say, Robert?
I think the world will slowly expire,
no need for ice, nor even fire.
I fear Mother Earth will die of neglect,
with a whimper, a sigh.
Oh, I suspect
she will quietly
Do you flee
or imminent change?
Or do you both know
that nothing will ever
be the same?
Will I do the same
shatter in my world?
For those of you who would like to play with allusion, in poetry, short fiction or essay, I offer you this prompt:
• Choose a work of art or poem (whatever) that has influenced your own writing and bring your own unique experience to the topic.
• Allude to an existing literary work or piece of art in your own creation
• Write a response poem, if you like. Answer back, either in agreement or opposition to the original piece.
• Write a poem in the style of one of your favorite poets. Be sure to reference the influential source. Include it, if it doesn’t infringe on copyrights…or provide a link if you are able.
• Allow the prompt to take you wherever you want to go. Just write.
To participate (and we hope you will):
• Write and post your work on your blog, citing the sources if you are able to, or providing a link.
• Access Mr. Linky at the bottom of this post and add your name and the direct URL of the poem from your blog or website.
• Visit other participants, if you are able. Read and comment on their submissions, especially those who have made the effort to visit you.
• Enjoy the process. You never know…someday you may make someone else’s list of influencers!
(Adapted from my original post on dVersePoets.wordpress.com)
– Victoria C. Slotto
© 2013, essay and photographs below, Victoria C. Slotto, All rights reserved
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VICTORIA C. SLOTTO (Victoria C. Slotto, Author: Fiction, Poetry and Writing Prompts) ~ is an accomplished writer and poet. Winter is Past, published by Lucky Bat Books in 2012, is Victoria’s first novel. A second novel is in process. Jacaranda Rain — Collected poems, 2012 is available on Amazon, as is the hot-off-the-press nonfiction, Beating the Odds: Support for Persons with Early Stage Dementia. Victoria’s poetry collection and non-fiction book are free to Amazon Prime Members. Link HERE for Victoria’s Amazon page.