Every writer can hope for audience, certainly every artist. That is, beyond themselves and anyone close enough to be subjected to listening to the latest pronouncements.
That circle would then have to be inclusive of all to whom they are vaguely connected through the internet.
WordPress, Blog.ca, Facebook, Twitter, etc., can all serve the purpose of advertising a finished product, and sharing written work.
But of all those who’d most benefit from the work, or maybe even most thoroughly enjoy the subject and the craft, writers are the least likely to be able to purchase. So participating in even that minimal quid pro quo, where you buy my book, and I buy yours, can feel daunting.
Of course there are those who’d merely buy others’ books, glance through them, and triumphantly say to themselves, whew.. and happily carry on without a second thought of nagging worry about whether they have any further concerns regarding being topped.
As for me, every writer I read teaches me something.
What can be done in the craft, what not to be done in most instances, what’s new and surprising, and the best of all, wonder and joy at the accomplishment. That is worth any affordable price.
Paying a price for a book teaches me appreciation for the effort and often brilliance of those whom I read. It makes me also feel that I am supporting what might be even more astounding that they would be working on at the time. Voluntarily being able to participate even at arm’s length is also part of that process.
The best books I find, the best art, makes me want more – and more. I wonder at what new insights and illumination will be shed on what is taken for granted in its commonplace being, what new insights might be discovered if the author or artist’s process can be felt and discovered throughout the reading and appreciation that would lead to discoveries of thought and feeling that would ease the process of moving through the world and time by inspiring me.
Inspiration in that sense is that true drawn breath refreshing and energizing, engendering a feeling of great capability, based on not only what has been revealed in the works of the writer, but what has been illuminated in the reader’s involvement.
The depth of that involvement, the focus and passionate intensity, are their own rewards. They can’t be bought, psychology books and self-help are a poor substitute. Political engagement by entertaining writers can free you of the dialogue that is ongoing to enable your own participatory thought processes, but most frequently only cater to whatever mood is current whether popular, or uncommon.
Poetry does it all in a brief moment. Thought, feeling, engagement; being taken away from the self and returned better for the process – memory, reason, history and the basis of political reasoning all contained within and surpassed by the art which keeps on giving long after the reading is done, often eliciting a second or even further reading that makes obvious that whatever else, poetry is passion and joy, energy and delight, philosophy and politics, all bound up in one.
The best will neither confirm, nor deny, prejudices, but offer a memorable experience which renews with each reading through particulars that can be applied to any circumstance and person, offering an extension of life lived and to be lived without the stodgy instruction of taking directions.
Direction and desire are there to be felt and discovered through the experience of poetry.
In its depth it is matchless, in its process you are freed to forget and thus look freshly on all concrete and commonplace objects, experiences, thoughts, and affects.
Poetry, like all good and great art, is that mystical fountain of youth, that Ithaca: the summation of all that is more than a felt absence, an eclipsed insight, or unacknowledged truths finally witnessed which alters not only process but being.
Those are transformed, brought to full awareness and distilled, in the best work that speaks directly only to you in the dialogue you continue.
Dean J. Baker is the award-winning author of The Herald, Baker’s Bad Boys, and the forthcoming collection of poems and prose poems, Silence Louder Than A Train.
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