Cal’s Advice? Read!

From Lost Puritan: A Life of Robert Lowell:

When Philip Booth askes him to look at his poems, Cal suggests he study perhaps “three poets for a month, maybe copying-out poems” to see what he can use to extend his range: “Empson for intellect. Marianne Moore for observation. Frost for how to get a poem organized.”

This set me to wondering. I think I instinctively root out what I can learn from poets I love as I read their poems. Sometimes this is done just by virtue of reading and rereading, osmosis, my poetry veins sopping it all up. Other times it’s a very conscious decision — especially when the poet’s work is a stretch for me. But it’s generally pretty haphazard — I read a lot, and hope to learn something in the process.

If you were going to do this same exercise, for March, say, in preparation for NaPoWriMo 2010, but instead planned to study 3 contemporary poets, who would they be, and what specifically do you think you could learn from them?

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