As Long As You Got Something Out Of It…

I wish we could “thumbs up ” each other’s blog posts, so even if a blog post doesn’t get comments, the author can still know people are reading it.

At some point between sophomore and junior year, I embraced “individual reader response criticism” (IRRC, for short) as the primary measure of my own poetry’s quality.  If you didn’t read The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Literary Theory and Criticism (perhaps you read something more scholarly), RRC represents the idea that how a reader experiences and interprets a written work is paramount.  The “independent” part indicates that there is no objective interpretation of a written work.  Now, deciding to view all literary interpretations of my poetry as valid (within reason) was an odd move for me.  Why would I, the person who insists on a single, objective answer for the meaning of life (to take care of one’s mitochondria) and the inherent nature of humans (we’re inherently selfish) allow for anything I write to be interpreted differently from my own interpretation?

Because I’d rather have more people get something decent out of my poetry than a few people get the right thing from it.

Maybe it’s selling out, but I’ve accepted positive reception quantity over interpretational accuracy.  Because I can’t control what people think, it would be highly difficult to write a poem that is understood by all readers the way I intend and also keep the poem’s poetic qualities (i.e. flow, form…).  What can I tell ya?  I like when people like my writing.  And if they get something out of it that I didn’t intend and liked it, I’m just gonna keep my mouth shut and accept the praise.

2 Replies to “As Long As You Got Something Out Of It…”

  1. I get you here. I think it’s difficult because I want the reader to understand where I’m coming from, but I also think there’s an attractiveness to being open to interpretation and people being able to put themselves into the speaker’s shoes. It may allow for us all to understand each other better to make things more “relatable.” But at the same time, to be able to describe one’s specific, localized phenomena in an intricate way and for the reader to appreciate it (as an obvious outsider) is also really great. This post also reminds me of when I’d listen to a song in middle school that clearly didn’t apply to me and fudge the lyrics to be like “SAME” even though it was not actually relatable at all. Anyone else with me?

    1. Dude, I do that with song lyrics now. Kendrick Lamar’s “XXX” is not something I should relate to at all, but something about the protectiveness and desire for revenge K-Dot emotes hits me. I rap the whole DAMN. thing in the shower so no one can hear my shameful appropriation.

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