SHOW NOTES EPISODE 14:
My Favorite & Most Influential Writers
I always get so many questions about my favorite books and what authors I’m inspired by. This is also one of my favorite subjects and I could talk about books and writers for days. Either way, in this episode I will share five of my favorite writers that influenced me in quite different ways. But all these writers and their books had a big impact on me when I first discovered them, and I go back to these writers over and over again for guidance.
I love getting book recommendations and I would love to hear your thoughts on these books, if you’ve read them, or if you have another book you think I would love based on these! So please find me and connect somewhere on the intraweb.
Here we go:
Favorite writer #1: Rainer Maria Rilke
My introduction to Rainer Maria Rilke was, like for many of us, through his “Letters to a young poet”. It’s a super short and quite simple book, but it really truly did have a huge impact on my life. I found it at the right time, right when I needed it, like so many of our most beloved books do. I had just turned 19, I think, and had spent my first months in London on my own. I felt lost and scared, alone with no direction and I doubted if I could ever make it as a songwriter.
The letters in the book are letters to a young poet, maybe a young you or me, because that’s what it feels like. It feels like you’re reading a letter addressed straight to you because it’s all so accurate.
I held on to letters to a young poet for many years before i moved on to read more from Rilke. I have sense devoured his books of letters, poetry, biographies and collections.
Like with every writer I fall in love with, I become more interested in their lives and philosophies, than their actual fictional works. Rilke seemed to have this deep urge to live intensely and deeply. He had many relationships, marriages, travelled widely and befriended many interesting people. He gave his life to his work, and he aimed to write truthfully. He seemed to have a strong urge to understand love and why we so desperately need love. Neither is he afraid to mention the problems with love, how young people throw themselves into a relationship without being whole in themselves yet.
Some books by Rilke to get you started
“Let everything happen to you
Beauty and terror
Just keep going
No feeling is final”
― Rainer Maria Rilke
Favorite writer #2: Joseph Campbell
Joseph Campbell has probably been the most impactful writer in my life. I found his philosophies in a time of complete desperation. I somehow stumbled upon Nietzsche's concept of Amore Fati. Simplified, it means lover of fate. That you must love everything that happens to you as if it was the only way things could have happened. This lead me to Joseph Campbell, and as if the universe was placing signs and help right in front of me, I found a yellow worn out copy of “Reflections on the Art of Living: A Joseph Campbell Companion” hidden between other books on a second hand market in Bristol right about the same time. I bought it for like 2 pounds and this book would sort of save me. It sounds silly maybe, but the panic you feel when you’re young, lost and heart broken is a real panic and maybe you grow up and learn how to deal with life, but at this point, this book was my salvation. I was 21 and I read it like a bible.
Joseph Campbell is a philosopher. He wrote about the power of myth and the hero’s journey. He has some wonderful books and talks on these subjects, but this book, A Joseph Campbell Compaion, is a collection of his most profound philosophies, thoughts and ideas. He’s writing about topics such as growing up, following your bliss, finding your path in life, and how philosophy will help you.
“Follow your bliss. The heroic life is living the individual adventure. There is no security
in following the call to adventure. Nothing is exciting
if you know what the outcome is going to be.”
One of his main points that he brings up again and again, is the concept of following your bliss.
“The hero’s journey always begins with the call. One way or another, a guide must come to say, 'Look, you’re in Sleepy Land. Wake. Come on a trip. There is a whole aspect of your consciousness, your being, that’s not been touched. So you’re at home here? Well, there’s not enough of you there.' And so it starts.”
-- Joseph Campbell
MY FAVORITE BOOKS BY CAMPBELL
Favorite writer #3: Jack Gilbert
Jack Gilbert was American poet, and something about his poems but also the way he lived his life hit me in such a strange and beautiful way, that I even decided to tattoo a line from his poem on my collar-bone.
Like many of the writers I love today, I found Gilbert by picking up one of his poetry collections from a second hand market somewhere in England. I started with his book Refusing Heaven and went on to read about his life. Gilbert shot to fame quickly in America but he didn’t like the spotlight. He fled the fame to live a wandering and simple life in many different European cities. He lived on the Greek island paros together with another amazing poet Linda Gregg. He also lived in Denmark and Italy, without knowing any of these languages.
A lot of his poetry are about his deep love for life, love and experiences. Linda Gregg, whom he ad a six yrar relationships with and spent his years in Greece with, described him saying:
“All Jack ever wanted to know was that he was awake—that the trees in bloom were almond trees—and to walk down the road to get breakfast. He never cared if he was poor or had to sleep on a park bench”.
I love reading Jack Gilbert because he seems to have been sort of happy in his simple loneliness, and he’s making me feel more comfortable with having a constant feeling of a quiet sadness, feeling rootless and restless, and just wanting things to be beautiful.
In an interview that was supposed to be about writing technique, Gilbert wanted to talk about how to live instead. He was asked to talk about how to become a poet, and he simply answered:
"Are you brave enough to be a poet? Then make the very most of your life, no less”.
MY FAVORITE BOOKS BY GILBERT
Favorite writer #4: Charles Bukowski
I guess Mr. Bukowski has a very certain spot on all my best-of lists. He’s my spirit animal, which sounds strange considering him being an alcoholic decadent ungrateful poet, but i just simply love him for his boldness and unwillingness to be fancy and happy.
The central library of Bristol is this big, beautiful cathedral. They have an old room with wooden floor that creeks when you walk on it. I used to go there and sit and read in the very specific silence of a library. One day I borrowed this big, thick book called “The pleasures of the damned”, which is a collection of the best of the best of Bukowski, but like all of it, I think it has something like over 500 pages. This book just left me floored. It was everything I wanted and needed at the time. Raw, bold poems about the gritty reality of things. I actually don’t really like his novels that much. I’ve read them all and I think the post office is the best of them, but if you want to give Bukowski a shot, just read some of his poems and you will either love him or hate him.
LINKS TO GET YOUR STARTED WITH BUKOWSKI
Favorite writer #5: Modern Poets (Richard Siken, Andres Gibson, Buddy Wakefield)
Okay so this was really hard because there are so many I want to mention. Instead, I decided to make nr. 5 into a collection of 3 of my favorite modern poets today!
These are Richard Siken, Andrea Gibson, and Buddy Wakefield. They all write prose poetry, Andrea Gibson and Buddy Wakefield are spoken word poets and you can find some very powerful performances by them on youtube.
Let me start Richard Siken. He has only written two very thin and small books of prose poetry, but his first book is such an extraordinary piece of creation I just can’t even describe it. It’s called Crush. Siken’s lover died in a car accident and many poems seem to be written in a blurry haze of sleep or death, but still alive, and it’s all so real and raw and beautiful. If you want to give prose poetry a try, Richard Siken’s book Crush is an absolute must.
Both Andrea Gibson and Buddy Wakefield have quite a few chapbooks of prose poetry at this point, and honestly you can just start with anything by them. I love everything they write and without suggesting I am anywhere close to their level of writing, I would say my writing style might fall on a similar shelf.
Also go on youtube and just google their names. You’re gonna find real beautiful performances, and Andrea Gibson sometimes tour together with musicians that she collaborate with. She has a few performances together with the American singer/songwriter Chris Pureka, and they’re just simply magical.
LINKS TO GET YOUR STARTED
Oh gosh I could go on for ages, but this is a good start! These are some of my favorite and most influential writers, and i hope this has inspired you to pick one of these writers up. If you do, please let me know what you think, what it made you feel and think and if you have something you would like to recommend to me!
Lastly, I sort of without doing too much shameless self promotion, should mention my brand new book Everything Changed When I Forgave Myself is out and available as both physical paperback and as a digital ebook now! You can find it on Amazon or get yourself a signed copy from my store that I will personally sign and send to you together with some goodies. I sometimes get questions where it’s best for me that people purchase my books, from amazon or from my store. Both option are magical for me, the only difference is that when you purchase from amazon I don’t send it out personally, so I can’t sign it. On the other hand the shipping might be cheaper if you live outside of Europe.
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Alright, that’s it friends. I hope you enjoyed this and like always, if you have any episode ideas, send them over! I want to talk about things YOU want to talk about :)
Love always, and thank you for listening.
MUSIC USED IN THIS EPISODE:
- Free 'Instrumentals' by Hyde >>>
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