Laurie D. Graham
I got to know Maya Angelou in junior high school after reading her autobiography I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, and I remember both her story and later her verse having a strong effect on me. Her poem “Caged Bird” echoes her autobiography, and I recall liking the musicality of it. I studied music before I studied poetry, so Angelou’s work was a good “gateway” for me:
I’ve been writing poetry for a long time — since childhood — but it wasn't until I got a bit older that I started understanding the stuff I was writing as poetry. I only started thinking of myself as a writer of poetry in my early twenties. That’s when I started getting deliberate about writing.
More and more I think the poet’s “job” is to figure out how to live as an invested, attentive, conscientious, sensing being and to take notes while you’re doing that.
Give me any of the Lorna Crozier, the Dionne Brand, the Fred Wah, the Marilyn Dumont, the Allen Ginsberg, the Joy Harjo, the Dennis Lee...