Tuesday, February 06, 2007


JH: Reading is distinct from interpretation, if interpretation is seen as wholly creative. But definitions, as in dictionary definitions, play a part in both reading and interpretation. How do the poem and dictionary definitions interact during the reading of a poem? Is there a picture, created by the poem, or that is the poem, first and foremost before the words are defined clearly (if so, is the first reading of a poem ever retained?)? A definition is the introduction of other words to the word it defines. Where do words outside the poem belong during the reading of the poem? Do words outside the poem come to resemble the poem, or resemble the act of reading the poem? Is poetry, once in the world, a method of reading that can only be used for poems or whatever words are in the poem's ambit? Reading is viewing; how is reading different from non-literary seeing? Interpretation is focusing on definitions and other outside words. A synonym of "meaninglessness" is "uselessness". But since anything at all can be interpreted, and almost anything can be read, how is a poem useless, if it can be used by reading and interpretation? Does a poem exist for anything other than reading and interpretation? Can a poem be used for anything other than reading and interpretation?

AHB: reading and interpretation go hand in hand, of course. one can read in such a way that forces an interpretation, based on bias or presupposition. like a dislike for avant-garde, or feminist writing, whatever any of that might be, or a love for New York or Language Poetry, likewise whatever. Small Press Distribution puts books into categories in their catalogue, as a means to sell. seeing Allen Ginsberg in the Gay category shook me. the wideness of his interests and vastness of his appeal gets lost in squeezing him into the one box. but the reader can and does do that, with a reading based on assumption or closemindedness. reading finds the parts of the machine and interpretation sees the machine at work. I want to turn from your questions, before I get too stupid, and look at the questioning itself. it seems like the poem inhabits a space that we readers infer, the space, that is. and we infer the poem itself. this resembles physics, where we infer the invisible from visible processes. our certainty bases on assumptions of connection and process. I've read where such scientists as Newton, Mendel and Pasteur fudged results of their experiments to bring forth the results they predicted, the “right” results. don't we readers do that as well, and we writers too? we assume limits to words and limits to poems, defining each by their boundaries. what initiates your questions? I spent a long time in my writer life not asking or answering questions. I bumped away from work that didn't engage me, with which I couldn't engage, and toward that which compelled me. I now feel I should be more cognizant, yet the murk is unsettling. do you work within the effects of the questions you ask?


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