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Poet-to-reader (reader-to-poet)

Earlier today I posted comments to the Pee in the Pool conversation taking place at Clattery Machinery's blog. I want to bring it over. Here it is.

Clattery, I’ve been increasingly thinking about something lately. Something simple but a bit odd too. Having recently designed a board I think is what has brought about a certain reckoning. It is simply the extent to which, on many boards, the poet to critic axis has not only come to dominate conversations, it has come to be viewed as the only currency of exchange between poet and poetry reader. In brief, and all too often, no other relationship, no other conversation, no other exchange is entertained.

This strikes me as a strange thing to have to say about poetry-context conversations. Or that the only means of relating to a poet is through critique, with no other avenue considered legitimate. And here is the weirdest part about it: we’ve all bought into the paradigm. Recently I had to say ‘no’ to a couple of board members who wanted more fora devoted to crit. Talk about role reversals, huh? And I may have lost their participation as a result. But my reasoning was that one poetry forum devoted to the poet and critic dialogue is plenty, is more than adequate. And my crazy, Montessori-like conviction is that there are so many other possible approaches to the poet-to-reader (reader-to-poet) relationship. About the idea I read one member to say, in effect, this is going to take some getting used to. It was the comment that startled me, stopped me, made me register what a bizarre circumstance, some, a few, maybe many of us have helped create.

If you were to ask me, ‘well, what are these other avenues’ I am not sure I could give them names. And if I could I am not sure I would. You know how it is: sometimes naming a thing kills it or changes its vector. It is sort of like when you are in love and you want to say to your lover ‘I love you.’ And you know that no sooner said than the feeling gets diminished or contained or, worst of all, set on a predictable course. Something like that.

I don’t know, man. Maybe I am crazy. On the other hand maybe this poet to critic (critic to poet) axis comes at a certain diminishment of the poetry experience. I remember something Stanley Kunitz was quoted as saying, maybe ten years ago, on NPR. The report had to do with a scandal involving the Academy of American Poets. And Kunitz was talking about the contemporary American poetry scene. Paraphrasing here he said: ‘Contemporary poetry lacks imagination, which is an odd thing to say about art.’ Maybe something similar is true about how poets and poetry readers relate to each other, at least on the boards. Lacking imagination.

This is what I posted at Clattery.'s

No sooner had I pressed down on the send button, turn the machine off, stand up from the desk, wash my face, and step out the door for the store than the answer came to me. So bloody simple. How it is poets and readers can relate to each other, writers to readers, readers to readers, is as varied as how it is we each relate to poetry, writing, and reading. There is the answer. All so damn simple. There is the antidote to the poet to critic axis that threatens to diminish the poetry board experience.


Last edited by Terreson, Mar/7/2009, 9:17 pm
Mar/7/2009, 6:49 pm Link to this post Send Email to Terreson   Send PM to Terreson

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