Rimbaud, Baudelaire and Kafka, that’s who.
I left them out of my list of twenty-five writers that influenced me. Rimbaud and Baudelaire had very particular influences on me. They were the first (and only?) poets I read in French, with some difficulty, and then I had this longish phase of trying to write to prose poetry.
Kafka made me write short stories. Very bad short stories, but anything’s better than nothing. I remember the thrill of hearing people say that such-and-such portion of my short story was very Kafkaesque. After remembering, I think, “What does Kafkaesque mean, other than, ‘sort of like Kafka’?” Here’s what I got out of Wiki:
1. reminiscent of the literary work of Franz Kafka
2. marked by a senseless, disorientating, often menacing complexity
3. marked by surreal distortion and a sense of impending danger
4. referring to intentional distortion of reality by powerful but anonymous bureaucrats
5. referring to an existentialist state of ever-elusive freedom while existing under unmitigable control
Fascinating. We use the word quite loosely. In future, when I think something is Kafkaesque, I’m going to say, “This is very nightmarish.” I wonder if the writer would appreciate it.