Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Poets and Their Readers

Some poets don't think
they owe supposed readers anything.
Some poets think they owe them
a lot. Some poets think they don't
have readers, so they may think,
"What's the difference?"

And some poets think readers
have it coming, "it" being a kind
of punishment or lesson: a riddle,
a bricolage of confused allusions,
an insult, a dismissal, or some other
gesture of superiority.  Me,

I think I owe readers something,
maybe a lot. But I'm rarely
fully certain what I owe, and
I don't know most of my readers
but am fully certain there aren't
that many.  I don' know

what Emily Dickinson thought
she owed ostensible readers
or who she imagined them
to be.  Maybe she assumed
people who like birds, the play
of words, whimsical comparisons,
and reticent irreverence might
enjoy what she wrote.  I'm fully

certain she wrote, "publication
is the auction of the mind,"
a statement that does and doesn't
seem to concern readers.  Also,

I'm fully certain that I've written
"fully certain" too many times here
and that if Dickinson's poetry were
a store and readers customers,
I'd think it was as well stocked
as anyone's store.  --Nothing
against other stores, of course.

--Hans Ostrom, 2012
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