My friend Michelle Porter recently asked me about my influences, who were the people I knew and/or read who had an impact on my development as a writer. I mentioned Anais Nin and James Baldwin, people I met only in book form, and Phil Hall, John Ditsky and Peter Stevens, as poets who had tutelage of me in my early days.
After I left university, my brief stint at school, I went through a protracted period of reading only BIPOC writers, seeking balance: Sally Morgan, Michelle Cliff, Alice Walker, Toni Morrison, Beth Brant, Audre Lorde, Lee Maracle, Maria Campbell, and Walter Moseley were some of the people whose books spilled across my bed, and permeated my bodymind.
I have so much respect and love for all of these writers.
Beyond the Americas, the writings of Yasunari Kawabata (Japan) and Zhang Xianliang (China) have had profound impacts on me.
Yes, it took me a minute to work out that choosing to be an English Literature major meant that "colonial writers" such as myself would never be a part of the discussion. I trust that students in today's universities and colleges will have a much greater breadth of input, including colonial, post-colonial, and even neo-colonial writers (dread bastards) to base their understandings of life upon in the coming days.