Bad Poets, Worse Critics?

Or is it good poets, bad critics?


  1. "To the poet worth reading, the last thing that matters is being read. And so, in many ways, the trick to growing poets is a lot like growing truffles; best to feed them sh-t and keep them in the dark."


    What is your reaction to the above quotation taken from the article?

    It's clever, but--is being read the last thing poets care about?

  2. Dear Fred,

    I would say exactly the opposite was true. To the poet worth reading, what he cares most about is being read, NOT necessarily being understood or appreciated for his evocative use of syntax.

    If you don't write to be read you have no audience other than yourself and so you need only to please yourself.

    I do think there is a sense in which it is accurate and that is in the throes of composition and even revision, your eye is not on being read, but on saying as exactly as possible what you mean to say. So there may be a sense in which the poet is not considering the audience but is looking deeply into what is resounding within.

    But I know that the thing I want most as a poet is to have people read what I write and enjoy it. Yes, enjoy--not appreciate, analyze, or send through some sort of critical cuisinart (although if that is a means of enjoyment--then have at it).

    Long response, and ambivalent, but I get your point. Thanks for writing.



  3. Steven,

    I agree. I'm no poet, but I do have my blog, and the main reason for it is to express some of my ideas for others to read and possibly comment upon. Whitman's poem that I placed on the home page probably best expresses my reasons for the blog.

    And it is true that while I'm working on a post, I'm thinking more about the writing than the audience, but when I revise, the audience is always in mind.

    First I work on expressing what I'm thinking, but then other questions come up:

    Is this understandable?
    Does this make sense?

    These are my concerns then.


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