Our language is born in communication with other people. With those we love and have confidence in we talk in a more personal way. As our voices get influenced by the person we talk to, we also become more personal. It’s the same with literary influences. Voices that mean a lot to us are stimulating our own. We develop into originals in communication with people who have something important to teach us about ourselves.
I had the good luck to come on the scene in New York in the middle of a youth revolution. I was nineteen, America was nineteen… There was electricity, trains left for heaven every ten minutes. Allen was a big, generous, loving uncle full of wise advice for the foolish young.
Well, everything affects everything – and, as Scorsese’s taxi driver says, YOU ARE YOUR JOB. I am no exception; I am even able to trace back, why this or that line was written in the way it stands now, what has influenced it: either this sentence from St. Augustin, or an example from a textbook, or an idiom heard on the bus.
I grew up in a poetry culture that was all about classical prosody. I mean, I grew up on it in the States. On Joseph Brodsky island. We had a Pushkin tree, a Mandelstam tree, and a Tsvetaeva bush. To jump from that into American poetry, no meter, no rhyme, just print, print, silence—that’s the real culture shock.