Many of my poems go first to friends who critique them. One, let's call him Lars, always goes for more clarity, more development, even at the cost of compression and subtlety. The other, we'll call him Arnie, wants further compression and an adrenaline rush at the end. Together they embody one of the great arguments about poetry: Is it meant to instruct or to entertain? That word or is a bugger. The best poems do both. Would that I could count on writing only the best poems. So writing exclusively for either of my friendly critics won't do. Why care what they think? Why try?
I write to be read or heard, to inform and to entertain, to argue that the world and my life in it are more complex and more braided together than I can easily say. I write from experience, not from ideas only. And not from emotion only, but to use all the ingredients of poetry in proportion. Each poem changes those proportions, but always the secret spice, the Bam! that kicks it up is discovery, mine and the reader's. I read and write poems to discover what life is about.
So, let's make that reader plural, because I'd like lots of people in on this ongoing conversation. The little world map on my blog stats page claims that I have readers in China, India, England, people in places I cannot otherwise reach. I would like to see what those readers want from me, so I'll add poems now and again to my website, keep my publication list up to date, scatter poems like seeds even if I rarely see the harvest. I have a foolish faith in poetry and choose to believe that my silent partners are there, be they Lars-like or Arnies, invisible, nodding or grimacing as they read. This spidery link keeps me writing.