Santa Monica, California, USA
RE: “I think it’s important to emphasis that the writer, in the case of a specific poem, is singular and the readers are (hopefully) many and as diverse as the types and forms of poetry.”
OK, but the interaction is still one on one, between the reader and the poem, and, as you have suggested before, the writer may well be out of the picture at this point. There is another whole school of thought devoted to picking lint from poet’s pockets in order to divine the “true” meaning of a poem from the poet’s perspective.
I’m not trying to suggest anything that you personally don’t already know, but I have noticed that there are people who don’t have a clue as to what is going on. And this is a discussion, so I’m just discussing.
“When it comes to poetry experience takes two forms, there’s poetic experience, the ability to recognise metaphor, meter and rhyme forms along with all the other trappings that make a poem a poem.”
Pretty much true, IMAO. (“IMAO” is the opposite of “IMHO.” I think I made that up. This seems to be why people go to “school,” formally or informally. I’m not suggesting as an absolute that people who don’t read can’t write. There’s an argument to be made for the power of the primitive impulse. And there is an equally strong argument which suggests that most poets are ahead of the curve. Who was reading Beowulf, or writing early ballads? Cobblers? Wainwrights? I think not.
But sooner or later, school’s out. Which leads us to:
“Then there’s the other experience, the one that discerns meaning, you could call this life experience, it’s from where the writer draws his inspiration and from where the readers draw their conclusions.”
Aye!, or Oy! There’s the rub. We seem to be in a period of cultural illiteracy, or maybe referential illiteracy, and it goes across the board. Jennifer Maxwell posted a poem here which clearly and intentionally referred to the Holocaust. How this could be missed by respondents is beyond me. She wasn’t talking about an obscure event which occurred in, say, 1320, but one which affected, altered, or created the latter half of the 20th century. Bizarre.
At the same time, I agree with what I think is your underlying notion that a reader at age 20 cannot read “King Lear” with the same level of insight as a reader at age 60. A reader (or writer) at age 20 may have had a heap of life experiences to draw upon, but they can’t have had (or may have trouble projecting) the experience of age or Lear’s anguish.
“So where does “The Hunt” fit into all this?”
For one thing, it is not “referential.” It does not rely on “presumed knowledge” on the part of the reader. It allows, as you intend, the reader to bring to it whatever he or she might have in his or her internal archives. This is a pretty lofty objective, and you seem to have accomplished it.
I’m going to get self-referential here, though I think its on point, and ask for indulgence.
In my previous post, I mention Milton. His work, I think, should be part of a common cultural heritage. I then mention “the chequer’d shade.” This is a little tougher. Folks with a general knowledge of whom Milton was may not, at the same time, be familiar with “Allegro.” Folks familiar with “Allegro,” may or may not have gotten the point of line 96. (Yeah, had to Google that one for the line number). Folks familiar with all of the above, may or may not be familiar with John Press and his book of poetic analysis, “The Chequer’d Shade,” which wasn’t about Milton, but a seminal work on contemporary poetics. (Didn't have to Google that one. That's where I grew up.)
What does all that mean? Not a damned thing, except as an example of what a reader might bring with him or her to a poem, or, in this case, a consciously anti-poem.
I defend myself: The references tend toward the obscure, but they are not pretentious. This is stuff I have in my head, and bring to reading a poem. Other’s will, as you do indeed state, bring something else, and others, as you don’t state, will have nothing to bring to the party.
For reasons which I don’t understand and can’t explain, I choose to write structured verse without using metaphor, even when being silly. This IMAO, is every bit as wacky a choice as Essorant makes. .
Finally (subject to revision) a thread on Charles Olson might be a case of “fools rushing in.”
Do you teach, Grinch?
[This message has been edited by oceanvu2 (10-29-2007 06:41 PM).]