It’s the obvious choice for me. I know there’s a lot of bad rep going on right now as everyone tries to emulate his style and everyone is accused of being a Bukowski rip off, but there’s a reason for this. Bukowski is the poet who got me into poetry almost fifteen years ago, though I didn’t have the balls to try writing my own until a few years after that.
For me, he made poetry accessible. He was able to create that same poignant, poetic beauty in the simplest prose-like terms, with just a single image that bit at you hard. Whether or not they choose to admit it, I think Bukowski is the poet responsible for inspiring a million other poets.
Another obvious choice, perhaps, but in my opinion Plath embodies all of what a poet should be. She rips herself open again and again and put it on the page for the world to see, and through he so many of us have glimpsed ourselves and our own suffering. The confessional nature of poetry is something I admire greatly and something that for me embodies the very nature of what poetry is.
Tao Lin is more famous as a novelist these days but his two poetry collections are two of my favourites. I find his poems hilarious, relatable, and true to the letter. They speak so accurately of what it’s like to live now in our web-based, social media obsessed culture. They speak of relationships and writing, and his poetic style is original and fresh.
My favourite songwriter of all time, and for me should easily be recognised along folk heroes like Dylan. His lyrics are tragic poetry. They’re confessional, real, full of imagery that could break your heart and put it back together all at once. His music changed my life and I don’t think there is enough appreciation for his lyrical and poetic genius. Standout albums for me are Either/Or and XO.
The best rapper of all time, period. Sage Francis is so much more than that. He’s a lyrical artist, a beat poet for the now, not a rapper really, but more a poet who raps to a beat. He’s the rap version of Bukowski and Ginsberg, and his songs discuss so many things that resonate with me and how I view society and my own life. His albums are thematic like a poetry collection and a glimpse into his life and struggles. My personal favourite is his most recent solo album Copper Gone.
Maté Jarai is a writer/poet from Budapest Hungary. He has a PhD in Creative Writing from Southampton University and is Editor-in-Chief at Cephalopress. He’s the author of three poetry collections, If We Open Our Eyes the Floods Won’t End So Let’s Not Do That, Instrumentals and the recently released Live Authentic Die Far Away. For more info see www.iamwendle.com/books and follow him on Twitter and Instagram @matejarai