A couple of weeks ago, TadMack had an interesting poem by Charles Bukowski. His "Fame" ruminates on what it is to be known, to be read. Ultimately, Bukowski is dismissive of and condescending to his readers, calling them an "afterthought, the placenta, an accident." Jama mentioned in the comments that she didn't fully believe him. I don't either. While it's true that fame would be, in my opinion, pretty unpleasant, that doesn't mean the reader can be so arrogantly discarded. Writers like to be read.
And, a bit of Bukowski's ignorance comes through. Does he realize just how life-giving the placenta is as he casually bundles it with afterthoughts and accidents? He thinks of it as something that's simply expelled, like so much garbage, after the birth, rather than grasping that it's the thing that nurtured that growing life in the first place.
Without readers, a writer is only half alive.
"But I would write no matter what!" you protest, as Bukowski did.
So would I.
But isn't it pleasant when someone picks up your writing and says with a sigh, "Oh. How did she know?"
Billy Collins has a different approach.
In The Flight of the Reader, from Sailing Alone Around the Room, he muses about the relationship, tentative though it may be at times, and unbalanced.
Sometimes it's the reader who has fallen head over heels, and sometimes it's the writer, as the last stanza acknowledges with a blush:
It’s not like I have a crush on youRead the complete poem here.
and instead of writing the five paragraph essay
I am sailing paper airplanes across the room at you –
It’s not that I can’t wait for the lunch bell
to see your face again.
It’s not like that. Not exactly.
And, did you know that you can go to this site and get free downloads of Billy Collins reading 34 of his poems?
Poetry Friday is being hosted today at Mentor Texts, Read Alouds & More. Find the whole round-up here.
And, next week, I'll be hosting. See you here next Friday morning.