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Wednesday, June 23, 2021

A bad / good reader of poetry

 Someone in our Spanish poetry reading group said he was a bad reader of poetry; he read slowly and inconsistently, couldn't read all that many poems in a day...  I said that actually that meant he was a good reader of poetry.  

There are people of great erudition who have read a lot of poems. Usually, that means decades of reading, not a few months. Part of the experience, probably for most of us, is passing one's eyes over many texts without really reading them, if reading means getting something out of them.  

It follows that when you do really read, you get something out of the reading of great significance. 

I realized that I had read Edward Dahlberg's memoirs simply because he was important for Charles Olson, when actually I haven't really read Olson himself. I've technically passed my eyes over some of his work, but I can't say anything intelligent about it based on really having read it.  I was reading Guy Davenport's essay where he talks about "The Kingfisher," listing many people who have told him how great it was. It turned out that nobody who had recommended the poem to him had the least idea of meaning or provenance any of its allusions.  

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