In 2008, Barnwood Press on Seattle, Washington published the second volume of Poet’s Bookshelf, a unique and extraordinary anthology edited by Peter Davis and Tom Koontz. The book features short write-ups by one hundred and one contemporary poets as they list and talk about the books that have made them who they are. Here is a short excerpt from the section penned by our own, professor and poet, Daniel Bourne:
I have a vague memory of a passage from the work of German philosopher Karl Jaspers that I came across in a “Greatest Hits of Philosophy” type anthology during my early undergraduate days. Jaspers, much less dire of a voice to me then than Heidegger or my first true love at the time, Friedrich Nietzsche (the tragic Nietzsche that Eugene O’Neill discerned and absorbed in Mourning Becomes Elekra or Lazarus Laughed more than the social scourge that George Bernard Shaw channeled into Man and Superman), said something along the lines of that the truly great are individuals only known to you, that are great in your life though perhaps completely unknown to others. That is why this idea of what would be on my “poet’s bookshelf” is so appealing to me. Here is a chance to show what spurred my early steps into poetry, what made me wake up to poetry. It’s no one else’s story, and I can’t make any claims about the importance of these works beyond their profound effect on me. Moreover, I’m going to stretch the notion of “book” to include other types of prisms through which I’ve been refracted into something different from what I was before. Not only would I include a novel—Tolstoy’s War and Peace—but also a tiny unopened package of pencils from the Thoreau pencil company, which I fondled from time to time as I worked in the vault of the Lilly Library at Indiana University from 1976 until 1985, at which time I took off for Poland on a Fulbright fellowship for translating younger Polish poets.
To see the complete list of his inspirations and read the full article, visit our website.