The writer is not the reader

in a place where one may write on one’s work, why wouldn’t one—yet, this one wants to resist that as far as possible while accepting the kindest of invitations to do so—we are used to artist/writer statements of a wide variety in recent years, and many of us accept the invitation as readily as we do the apparent validity of the process—so what can be said if one does not accept the validity of the process—there’s a nice remark from Derrida : ‘There is no insurance against the risk of writing’—many of us have decided the risk is too great, we cannot afford the premiums, we have to stack the deck, somehow, in our favour, lest the valuation of another take hold— but the valuation of others is exactly what we invite isn’t it, that others, from their locations which are always other than our own, find something there of value, something to remember, something to delight, to instruct, to wound even, so each may draw something from the well of language that connects with the utter difference that we are—Maurice Blanchot said that the world is always other than we think it is, by which I understand that even an artist statement will be received in ways other than its author imagines, or can control—since around 1950, the extent and persistence of migration, people from most countries moving to most other countries, the idea of ‘poetry’ has undergone significant dispersal, that we no longer have just one ‘European tradition’ in active use in English-speaking places, but multiple non-European languages, multiple philosophies, multiple socio-economic contexts, different foods, different social protocols and so forth, that we are now in a condition of poetries, plural, than ‘poetry’ as a single ‘tradition’ which could provide us with the craft tools and exemplars to guide those who want to embark on something like ‘a life of the poet’—

            which is why I question the usefulness of writers or artists talking about their work—I do not offer poems to ‘my’ world, but to the worlds of everyone else for their acceptance or rejection—I have neither right nor competence to suggest how anyone should read my writings—there are poems I have memorised by Archilochos, Sappho, Shakespeare, Keats, Olson, which are now my poems, that inform me as I walk in the park, wake in the night, or remember in the supermarket—my world is as different from those of their authors as I am from the people who live in the same apartment building two floors up or down from my apartment—all those earlier large separations of time and place are compressed into a world in which all times & places are currently active in our daily lives—here are the poems, these words, in this sequence, in this arrangement on the page, yours to take as you find them, not as I propose you find them

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