Friday, July 10, 2009

To Be Read or Not to Be Read?

Did anyone ever
tell you that it didn't matter if people heard or read your poetry - that the joy should be in creating it? I have had this conversation repeatedly with someone - let's just say - someone close to me. I also sing and paint pictures, and I have heard the same argument - the joy is in doing it, not who may or may not hear or see it.

Poetry is to be read! Art is to be seen! Music is to be heard! I cry over and over.

Today I glanced at the current Newsweek in the grocery store line. There is an article about our national poet laureate, Kay Ryan. I love what she says about this:

"One of the elements of an art is the fact that it communicates," Ryan says, "The transaction isn't complete if you don't publish." (Of course, that easy for HER to say, but we all try, don't we?)

I also appreciated this unrelated quote:

"Poetry is resistant. In a culture in which the "take-away" is paramount, poetry gives nothing away. You have to look past whatever the poem seems to be about to see what it is."


Pressin On said...

definitely it is a waste to write poems and not share them thru an open mic or getting them in print.

at least send the poems to family or friends. put one on a postcard and mail it to another poet.

the point of poetry to me is to get across my point of view, which, if articulated well enough has value for any man. similarly, any well communicated POV of another will have impact or value to me.

but....i like also that guy Darger---Henry. he made like 3000 drawings, an 11,000 (not a misprint) page novel for young adults....his whole apartment was filled with poems and paintings. all unpublished. all discovered after the fact...and now in a museum!

Theresa Göttl Brightman said...

I agree--all art is to be shared. Art is a two-person process: the creator and the observer. Without the observer's experience, I don't believe the art exists.

michael salinger said...

One of the most respected minds in education theory Louise Rosenblatt who postured the reader response theory purports that the meaning of a piece of writing (and I would further include art of all kinds) resides not on the page - nor in the reader's mind but floating in between the two - a coalescence of the writers words and the reader's experience.

I believe that at most times the reader actually has more influence on the meaning of a text than that of the author - which is why I so strongly promote effective performance of one's work. It's in performance that the presenter is given another opportunity to influence the interpretation of a piece by their audience.

How many time have you said - or heard said - I didn't quite get that until I heard it out loud?

Shelley Chernin said...

Although I'm a big fan of Kay Ryan's poetry, I have a different viewpoint.

I see the poet who writes, never shows the work to anyone, and burns it the day before she or he dies as something like the proverbial tree that falls in the forest. Does it make a sound if there's nobody there to hear it?

Hmmm....well, I see every reason to believe that sound waves move through the air when that tree falls. If you don't want to call that sound (or art), then don't, but surely something has happened. The air has been moved.

The poet’s life was certainly changed by the act of writing. We are changed by everything we do. When one life is changed, the lives around that person also change. Maybe nobody heard the sound, but I see every reason to believe that there were waves.

Diane Vogel Ferri said...

Beautifully said, Michael.
Shelley - thanks for your perspecitve because I never really thought about how the poems change ME! Great notion.

Shelley Chernin said...

Diane, I've got no proof that this happens, but it's easy to imagine an angry teenager who uses secret poetry to work through the anger, avoiding lashing out at the world, and who becomes a more compassionate person, contributing something positive to society. Those unhead poems would benefit all of us.

I think Kay Ryan's strength as a poet is digging into the details. When I look at the broader picture and ask questions like, "Why write? What does writing accomplish?" I see so many different answers for different people. I wouldn't want to discourage anyone from writing, even if they're in a place in their lives where, for whatever reason, they cannot share.

John B. Burroughs said...

Good blog, good comments....

I spent years writing for no one but the boxes in my attic. 'Twas cool for a while - good for me in some ways - but never again....

If it's not communication, it's only masturbation.

Shelley Chernin said...

"...only masturbation"? Puttin' down one of my favorite, healthy, human activities????

John B. Burroughs said...

Don't mean to put it down at all - but for me it got quite old after a while without a partner - as all good things can. The older I got, the more I found I much prefer mutual masturbation. So I began getting involved in poetry readings. ;)


The poet doesn't invent. He listens. ~Jean Cocteau