2. This is the other part of my follow up to Geof's comments on my response to Curtis's comments to Mark's post about readings. Assume that this paragraph is littered with links, which I am too thoughtless to provide.

2. This is the part where I repeat that there is nothing particular special about poetry on the page that makes it more excellent that poetry which is spoken aloud or written in the snow or photographed or recorded on CD or repeated by trained parrots or dreamed of in one's sleep or implied in a conceptual piece or read in the tea leaves or whispered in the wind

2. Geof wrote: "But I, as a critic of poetry, am concerned about the value of particular poems and oeuvres over the long term." And if "value" there is being meant as something like "worth", if Geof is suggesting that his job as a critic is to be concerned about whether a poem is good or not, then I say: No, that's not your job at all. Your job is to explore how a poem or oeuvre is situated, or how it functions, internally or externally. You provide an entrance, or a new light; you make it as though we have read the poem in question not just once, but dozens of times. You get us past the initial work of reading and allow us to enjoy a more profound and intimate relationship with the text. (And these are things that Geof does all the time as a critic, and this is why I read him!) But we will leave talking about whether a poem is "good" or not to the fourteen-year-olds.

2. Geof wrote: "Most people who experience poetry at all experience the vast majority of it on the page, and silently." This is probably true if we think about poetry as "the things done by poets that get marketed as poetry". But happily we are not bound by what poets think poetry should be. There are other linguistic acts that resemble poetry, that do the things we expect poetry to do, that we can (or have to!) read and enjoy as poetry -- and if we consider that kind of poetry, then I suspect most of it is not written down on paper at all. And given how rare it is for someone to read an actual poem-type poem that has been written down by a poet and published by poetry, but how frequent it is for someone to hear some buoyant and charged turn of language in slogan for a new ad campaign on the radio (and how the ad campaign is probably better poetry than the poem). And even if you're not willing to go that far, I suspect more people hear Garrison Keillor read the poem of the day on NPR than actually read a poem during the course of a day.

2. Geof wrote: "[M]ost people cannot hold in even the surface information presented to them in a poetry reading, so they receive the important aural value of the poems, but not their entire intellectual value." Once a poem has presented you with its entire intellectual value, is it still a poem? Perhaps at that point it has become prose. No, perhaps at that point it is no longer language, it is no longer readable. "I'm fine with this situation and love merely taking in the sounds and as much of the sense as I can, but this means I'm never getting the whole poem." That's right, you're not. Poetry is a reminder that there is always more to get. It is a hydra, offering sevenfold the danger for each skirmish won. Or: It turns every text into a hydra. It is a werehyrda.



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