Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Bringing the reader and the poem together

There’s a concept made up by some old guy(!) that’s popular in translation studies: all translation decisions either bring the reader closer to the text, or the text closer to the reader.

I think this is a fascinating statement, and one that I sometimes apply to my own poetry: am I trying to make my idea or perception or description closer to my reader, or how hard am I willing to make the reader work to get at, perhaps, my purest understanding of that concept.

I think another danger is that in grad school there’s a pressure to over-perform, that the piece has to “do something” or “bring something new to what it is.”

Is it important to make these considerations? Or are you trying to learn how to more purely express something (an idea, or maybe a scene) and craft is just a vehicle for that expression?

Are you worried about going too far, and losing the thread of what the poem is? Or not going far enough, and not discovering what the poem is?

This is pretty similar to my last post (well, the one before the AWP post--which, by the way, if you're going, feel free to comment on) about good and bad poems, which got some really interesting responses—I hope y’all have cool thoughts to share for this question (bring the reader closer to the poem, or bring the poem closer to the reader?), too!

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