March 16, 2009

Fifteen Books That Have Influenced Me

15 Books MemeI was going to write a post similar to Monique Roffey’s, but then, I was tagged by Lisa, so the first five books on this list are My Pentateuch: The books that I carried with me from Jamaica when I had to make a real choice about which books would come with me to America.

1. Uncle Time by Dennis Scott.

The world of the fantastic surrounds us. Portrait of the Artist as craftsman.

2. Reel from “The Life Movie” by Anthony McNeill.

It’s the music of the line that matters.

3. Another Life by Derek Walcott.

Poetry is a vocation—a calling.

4. The Arrivants by Kamau Brathwaite.

Africa is an integral part of our culture and we denigrate the continent to our own psychic peril.

5. Mimic Men by VS Naipaul.

Naipaul’s cautionary tale about a man who is so consumed by the notion of “superior” colonial culture that he demeans the beauty around him.

6. The Pond by Mervyn Morris.

Make every word, every syllable, and every sound count.

7. Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce.

The life of an artist, especially those from colonized countries, is fraught with perils to conform.

8. The Myth of Sisyphus by Albert Camus.

Camus’s response to our collective existential condition.

9. The Inferno by Dante (trans. Robert Pinsky).

A poet’s response to the moral crisis in his culture. I also have to thank Mr. Pinsky for allowing me to use a quotation from his translation in my novel Benjamin, my son.

10. All the King’s Men by Robert Penn Warren.

Corruption, father and son relationships, the burden of Plantation America

11. As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner.

Lyricism, the burden of Plantation America

12. Love in a Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Marquéz.

What can I say? I’m a romantic.

13. Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair by Pablo Neruda.

See above.

14. The Children of Sisyphus by Orlando Patterson.

A Jamaican hell.

15. The Hero With a Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell.

Myths are intertwined/hardwired into our DNA. It is the poet’s job to revise/ renew the myths and suggest new ways.

I’m not going to tag, anyone for this meme. However, if you read it, liked it and want to jump in, come forward! The virtual pool is irie.



Crafty Green Poet said...

Interestign list. I've just read Portrait of the Artist for the second time and am now reading Ulysees! I can see that this one too could be very influential.

Geoffrey Philp said...

Crafty, thanks for stopping by. I'm thinking of doing something with Ulysses for my next novel.
I am really fired by myth and I am hoping to further explore the African/Caribbean myth conexxion. As you can see, it has begun with Anancy.

Anonymous said...

Geoffrey, We do indeed have many similar influences. When I compiled my list, I added then deleted As I Lay Dying--what an awesome book! I've been contemplating texts for my next Caribbean Literature course, and you're helping me justify MANY more required readings. :)

Geoffrey Philp said...

I think we could change the course to the literature of Plantation America to include Faulkner, Robert Penn Warren and Marquez.

Anonymous said...

I'll work on it!!! This is a harder (because more precise) and therefore more interesting exercise than the 25 authors one.

Anonymous said...

Plantation America course -- a fantastic idea. Don't forget all the Brazilian plantation literature, it is fascinating.

Geoffrey Philp said...

Professor Zero,

It will be very very interesting to see what you come up with. I, of course, follow your blog, so I'll see it the minute it's posted, so don't keep me waiting too long.

Anonymous said...

Alice in Wonderland is on it.

Geoffrey Philp said...

Z,I hopping over to see the complete list!

Geoffrey Philp said...

Yes, Brazilian lit is fascinating and would open up new dimensions to the conversation.