In the spirit of that investigation I went back to one of the earliest embarrassing influences on my poetry: a skit by John Cleese. During my teen and pre-teen years in Oshawa, Monty Python was a big source of entertainment at mostly-male weekend gatherings where the albums and films were always in heavy rotation. I imagine it has been the same among socially-awkward and pseudo-intellectual boys across North America and the U.K. for the past 30 years. Thus it is with chagrin that I realize how much my early writing was influenced Cleese's "Word Association."
This piece taught me about parataxis long before I read Gertrude Stein, about the importance of grammatical shifters years before encountering Steve McCaffery, and the energy that can be created by shifting verbal registers before I had even heard of Bruce Andrews. Both the skill of this performance and and the humour of this piece reminds me of the best LANGUAGE poetry, and I wouldn't be surprised if I one day learned that Charles Bernstein was inspired by some of the Pythons (although I'm guessing he would cite Groucho Marx and early American comedians before the British). I also seem to recall that Brian Kim Stefans once made a quip about possible connections between the performances of John Cleese and Steve McCaffery. I can't remember if Steve thought the comparison flattering or apt, but I think there's something there: in my writing, if not in his and the others.