Italo Calvino – Invisible Cities
I learned about structure, sequence, and patience with that book–traits that I have applied in almost every book I’ve made since reading it.
Li-Young Lee – Rose
It was the first book I ever read by an Asian American poet. I had encountered it at a particularly important transitional time–when I was thinking about dedicating my life to writing poems–and it was just the book that gave me permission.
Theresa Hak Kyung Cha – Dictee
When I first read the work, I had absolutely no idea what was happening but each time I read it now I’m more and more astounded by what the written word can do.
Larry Levis – The Widening Spell of Leaves
From Levis I learned how to capture a narrative but also how to digress from that narrative and use digressions to make the story grow more meaningful. He was quite extraordinary at taking disparate moments and synthesizing the disparate into the singular.
Adrienne Rich – Atlas of a Difficult World
This book was probably the second book of poetry I ever owned and I was assigned her work in the very first poetry workshop I had ever taken. It was so damn inspiring to see the vast scope of her political vision.
Oliver de la Paz is the author of five books of poetry. His most recent book, THE BOY IN THE LABYRINTH, was published by the University of Akron Press in 2019. Along with Stacey Lynn Brown he co-edited A FACE TO MEET THE FACES: AN ANTHOLOGY OF PERSONA POETRY. He is the co-chair of the Kundiman Advisory Board and teaches at the College of the Holy Cross and is faculty at the Low Residency MFA Program at the Rainier Writing Workshop.