Alright, it’s 4:30 AM, I’m not sure why I’m awake, let’s do this.
So the question of authorial intent has been plaguing me all semester. I personally prescribe to the “death of the author” ideal—once you put something out there, your intentions really don’t matter. What you intend may be completely lost within the poem itself because you didn’t express yourself clearly enough or a few words had unintentional meanings. I know a few of my poems where no one picked up on what subtext I wanted conveyed. I’m okay with people not getting what I intended, but the question is, how do I move on from there with revisions?
In cases where authorial intent is so far off from what is actually written, is it better to try and make it more explicit in the poem, or go with the direction people got more of a message from? Is it a sign that I should write two different poems, one with the original intent, one with what people thought? Is it a sign I should take a breather and try some different material until something makes itself clearer?
Carey McHugh tackled the issue of authorial intent when she visited us. She said she really didn’t see people getting different views as a problem, as obviously not everyone is going to have the same experiences, and will approach material differently. This is the view I try to take with other people’s work, but can’t seem to apply to myself. Is it a case of sort of “letting go,” acknowledging that how your audience takes your poem is out of your control?