One of the most impactful writers in my life I came to late. I was in my late twenties, and came across a poem by a gentleman I'd just seen on one of my favorite TV shows, a mountain of a man -- both in size and in character -- Jim Harrison. He was captivating, even just listening to him speak was incredible. He had the placidity and measured speech of a man who had lived hundreds of lives in his time on Earth, and I knew that I had to figure out more about him, about how he saw the world and remembered his life.
So I found some of his poetry. "A Variation On Machado", in particular struck me as something wonderful. All throughout school, poetry was the one thing I couldn’t crack: you give me satire, you give me screenplays, you give me novels, short stories, novellas, picaresques, buildingsroman; all of it was immediately obvious, almost childish. Meanwhile I could never really find the right frame of mind or perspective for poetry to click in the same way.
Jim did it for me. In one piece, in maybe 5 minutes that it took to read it, I had an entirely new frontier of literature opened up for me. All because of a man who had died nearly 70 years before I had been born and his mother and their crossing from Spain into France. Years later poetry has become my refuge and the art of writing that I'm most appreciative for, and the one that I feel, personally, needs the most work.
Especially in strange and stressful times like these, I cannot recommend enough returning to the quiet, conversational poets, and twisting their words around within you. It's not an art that's understood fully at first blush, but whatever time you pay it poetry will repay you tenfold.