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October 07, 2007

Role of a Poet

A few weeks ago, we talked about the role of the poet. I think people write for many reasons, but I believe that the finished product, for almost all writers, is a result of their need to express something. This form of expression can be geared towards an audience, and it can also be solely for the self. Some write to communicate an idea, a feeling, to someone else, but I also believe that many write to liberate themselves without having the need to communicate to an audience. So, writing can be what may seem like a selfish act, but also a generous one.

However, I do believe that most writers begin their work without having an audience in mind. The writer doesn’t find an audience, an audience finds the writer. That is, as readers, we take on the responsibility of finding works that move us or inspire us to keep reading. The writer cannot do this for us; we must let it happen ourselves. I think this is one of the biggest yet subtle differences between the roles of a writer and reader. Both embark on separate journeys. They are separate because each has a different sense of time. For instance, the reader may experience a poem within a single moment, but the writer knows it as something else. She knows the evolution of it, and therefore interprets it as something else. I don’t believe the poet intentionally “takes us somewhere else;” I believe the reader takes himself “somewhere else.” The poem is what triggers this movement. But once it triggers, the reader unknowingly moves, or goes elsewhere. What is neat to me is that while the poet investigates and makes a product out of her inquiry (role of the writer), the reader can move through the product in multiple ways and basically in any way he likes. He can go places without being told where to go (role of the reader).

Posted by pbali at October 7, 2007 11:56 PM


I have to agree that, in expressing his or her self, the author is taking their own journey, one of discovery if you will, rather than taking the reader on a journey. If the whole idea was to just take the reader on a journey, there would be no need for poetry, but instead we would merely state what we have to say and get on with our lives.
However, I think that this then gives rise to two kinds of poets, those that write to express solely to get out their own thoughts, to take a personal journey, and those that want to convey something to an audience specifically, that do seek to make their expression as readily understood as possible, while still remaining within the realms of poetic expression. I have to think that some do seek audiences, for I can see no other reason why one might want to publish their work. If poetry was always intended for the author alone, then poetry would never be shared but instead accumulate somewhere in a drawer or dusty shelf.

Posted by: pbali at November 5, 2007 07:41 PM

Is this need (necessarily) a human need? A need of nature (if the human form of sentience is removed) --does the lightning express something? Does the virus in rewriting the architecture of cell function? what is the limit to be placed on "expression"? and on "somethin''?

Do cycles of existence have anything to do with a need to express? That is, would this need be reduced or even eliminated in infinite existence? A cycle of emergence, activity, inactivity, cessation, transformation of form perhaps helps a need to express emerge or helps in the interpretation of manifestation of stations of the cycles of existence as evidence of a need to express?

Yes; the role of the reader (or the role of the one participating in life, in existence, the interpreter of experience) is huge --so much responsibility. We read experience and write our lives.

Posted by: thyliasm at November 5, 2007 08:12 PM

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