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Nick Cave named his 15 favourite poets of all time

While the idea of punk and poetry has managed to seamlessly join hands in the years since its inception, Nick Cave has followed in the footsteps of Patti Smith, Lydia Lunch and even John Cooper Clarke in bringing a deeper lyrical content to a genre bursting at the seams with an aggressive sentiment.

In times of need, Nick Cave has offered his words of wisdom as the most unlikely agony uncle. Here, we’re dipping into the Far Out archives to revisit some creative suggestions from the Bad Seeds frontman Nick Cave himself. Here, we revisit the moment the Australian musician and author revealed a selection of his most loved poets while in conversation with his fans.

Cave, who was again answering questions via his immensely popular fan led platform Red Right Hand Files, detailed his commitment to poetry and described it “part of my job as a songwriter,” he said, before adding: “I try to read, at the very least, a half-hour of poetry a day, before I begin to do my own writing”.

Cave continued: “It jimmies open the imagination, making the mind more receptive to metaphor and abstraction and serves as a bridge from the reasoned mind to a stranger state of alertness, in case that precious idea decides to drop by.”

One of Cave’s fans, Astrid, from Los Angeles, asked if the Bad Seeds frontman would be able to narrow down some of the poets that mean the most to him. “I have a few poets that, purely on a personal level, always delight and are a simple pleasure to read. There are enough surprises within their writing to keep the mind light and alive,” answered.

“This is by no means a definitive list and in no particular order. I’m just sitting here at my desk looking at my bookshelf, in fact. They are poets whose company I consistently enjoy,” he added.

Here, with a wide range of differing wordsmiths, Cave detailed 15 of his most-loved poets for you to get stuck into during your period of self-isolation.

Nick Cave’s 15 favourite poets:

  1. Stevie Smith
  2. Frederick Seidel
  3. William Blake
  4. Sherwood Anderson
  5. Rae Armantrout
  6. Langston Hughes
  7. E. E. Cummings
  8. W. B. Yeats
  9. John Berryman
  10. Sylvia Plath
  11. Thomas Hardy
  12. Philip Larkin
  13. Emily Dickinson
  14. Sharon Olds
  15. W. H. Auden

Below, read Nick Cave’s full answer to his fans.

“I have always read a lot of poetry. It’s part of my job as a songwriter. I try to read, at the very least, a half-hour of poetry a day, before I begin to do my own writing. It jimmies open the imagination, making the mind more receptive to metaphor and abstraction and serves as a bridge from the reasoned mind to a stranger state of alertness, in case that precious idea decides to drop by.

“Sometimes the reading is something of a chore and there are many “great” poets I find boring, inscrutable, long-winded and painful to read. They can be bad news for the imaginative process.

“However, I have a few poets that, purely on a personal level, always delight and are a simple pleasure to read. There are enough surprises within their writing to keep the mind light and alive. This is by no means a definitive list and in no particular order. I’m just sitting here at my desk looking at my bookshelf, in fact. They are poets whose company I consistently enjoy.

“Just to say, my list, in this instance, is of poets writing in the English language, for no other reason than to make the list more manageable.

“Beyond this list, there are various poetry anthologies which are always an education and an immense pleasure to dive into, most notably those put together by the great Jerome Rothenberg – among them Barbaric, Vast and Wild, Shaking the Pumpkin, A Big Jewish Book, America a Prophesy and Technicians of the Sacred. (See Red Hand File #5).

“Much love,
“Nick.

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