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Picks and Pans Review: Sounds Off

updated 11/15/2004 at 01:00 AM EST

originally published 11/15/2004 01:00AM

Alicia Keys Taking a cue, perhaps, from Bob Dylan (whose book of lyrics hit stores last month), Grammy winner Alicia Keys has written Tears for Water, a book containing lyrics from her albums and 27 poems from her private journals. Keys, 24, talks about her literary leanings.

HAVE YOU ALMAY WRITTEN POETRY? Yes, for a long time. Some of the poems in the book have been in existence since I was 15.... Some poems may have started out as song ideas, but I just continued to write randomly; I was just writing what I was feeling.

WHAT'S THE DIFFRENCE BETWEEN YOUR POEM AND SONG? The poetry is even more intense than the songs; you can feel the difference. A song is more structured. You have to make people understand what you're saying. Whereas the poetry is more free-form. You can dig down much deeper, because there are no rules.

ARE YOU INFLUENCED BY OTHER WRITER OR POETS? I like Ernest Hemingway, Maya Angelou. I remember the first time I read Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man. I had this great teacher who brought you through all the nuances that went deeper than the words. I remember being really in awe.

WHEN YOU WROTE THESE POEMS DID YOU INTEND TO PUBLISH THEM? Not exactly. This book challenged me to decide what I wanted to share because some of it was so personal. For a lot of them, I realized that since those times have passed, I was ready to share because I'd moved on. The poems are my lessons.

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