And that’s the thing about poetry…

once it’s out there it’s anybody’s game.  That is the interesting thing about poetry – what the writer wrote and meant is NOT always what the reader hears and understands. I think, unlike prose, the reader brings personal meaning to the poem. Regardless of what the writer meant, it’s what the reader understands that’s important. And you have to be okay with that. You can’t argue with a reader, you can’t stand up and shout – “That’s not what it means!!”

Perhaps you say to yourself “I’m not good at this, they didn’t get it” But, big but, if someone reacted to your poem, in a personal, positive way, then yes, yes, you ARE good at it. You touched someone. Maybe not the way you intended. You had a particular something in mind when you wrote, and it was personal to you. The act of writing it out and then offering it to the world closed that circle for you.

Then it was read and experienced in a different way from yours. It drew another person, and their experience, into your circle. Perhaps there was an overlap of understanding and feeling, perhaps not, but probably yes.

Your poem, it’s meaning, how it is experienced, becomes like a Venn diagram, commonalities here and there with large open spaces of no connection.  While you may seek, and wish, to be understood that won’t always happen. Poetry is deeply personal for the writer and the reader and there is where the joy is and the worth of it. The hard part of writing poetry is letting it be to other people whatever they need it to be regardless of what you meant it to be.

A writing professor of mine said “Poetry doesn’t have to be FOR everyone but it has to be ABOUT everyone.”

4 thoughts on “And that’s the thing about poetry…

  1. agree
    and it is not just poetry. but any form of art/writing. also movies as it is how the director “sees” how the stroy should be and that can differ from how others who read the story “saw” it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think poetry is more prone to personal interpretation that any other creative form – with other forms the reaction takes place over the time it takes to read a novel or script, with poetry the reaction is immediate and often visceral. I speak from the experience of live readings of my poetry where I could see people quivering with reactions before I was even done reading.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. i understand. in high school, each year a group of students and teachers would get together to review works of art, poetry etc to be published in the schools literary “magazine.” i submitted a couple of poems. one was selected and the review stated how meaningful and well written it was. some other nice things were said about it that i have forgotten. the joke is on them as i randomly selected words from the dictionary that seemed to go together. it had no meaning or purpose to me but yet the reviewers saw a lot. lol

        Liked by 1 person

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