At one time or another, I was influenced by Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, Wallace Stevens, William Carlos Williams, Vasko Popa, Zbignew Herbert, Pablo Neruda, Cesar Vallejo and at least a few dozen equally famous and not-so famous poets I was reading.
There’s something else in my past that I only recently realized contributed to my perseverance in writing poems, and that is my love of chess.
Not being a native speaker of English, I’m also often asked why I didn’t write my poems in Serbian and how I arrived at the decision to ditch my mother tongue.
Again, my answer seems frivolous, when I explain to them that for poetry to be used as an instrument of seduction, the first requirement is that it must be understood.
No one ever made that mistake with me, and yet I kept going.
A young man sits at the kitchen table late at night eats a slice of pizza and reads an ancient Chinese poet in a book he borrowed from the library earlier that day and falls in love with a poem, which he will read to himself over and over again from that day on till he is old and gray.Today, it’s clear to me that my love of poetry came from those compulsory readings and recitations, which left a deeper impact on me than I realized only many years later.The real mystery to me is that I’m still writing poetry sixty years after those first attempts.The assumption is that there was a moment when they came to realize that there could not be no other destiny for them but to dedicate their lives to poetry, followed by the announcement to their families that they want to be poet with their mothers screaming: “Oh God, what did we do to deserve this?” and their fathers ripping out their belts and chasing them around the room.