In Jack Grapes’ Method of Writing class, taking a car wash has nothing to do with your automobile, It refers to reading the work of a writer or poet and letting their words wash over you, steeping yourself in their ideas and essence. Then you do your own work, not mimicking the other writer, but allowing their effect seep in, giving you the opportunity to get out of your comfort zone.

After Charles Bukowski, I was raw and admitting a side of me I didn’t know existed. The Russian poets, Marina Tsvetayeva, Ygevny Yevtushenko, Vladimir Mayakovsky, and Anna Akhmatova gave me a dark, anguished power in my poetic outcries. Billy Collins reminded me that there was room for humor, Frank O’Hara showed me my heart and I found new ways after Sharon Olds, Eileen Myles.

It becomes a wonderful journey to new creative countries every time I am introduced to a new poet or writer. We learn not only from their content but also their style and manner. It becomes another tool for our writers toolbox, a map to help us get to new destinations.