a person speaking to persons

Poets don't need dream readers, they need real readers - readers who sometimes criticize what they cherish and cherish what they criticize. But we've forgotten who these people are. Instead we make ourselves giddy whipping up new art-organisms and poem-shapes - stuff that doesn't know who or what it's for. Getting a poem under someone's skin and lodging it there: does anyone give a fig about that anymore? The theory-speak idea of the "other" has, with its fetishizing of difference, killed any sense of obligation toward the collective experience, the shared sense of what it means to be human. As the late Stanley Kunitz once wrote, the true vocation of the poet is to be a generalist, "a person speaking to persons." And for me this is the challenge, to burn through the specialism of our art and touch some rock-bottom sense of the reader's lived experience. And it's the boredom of that reader, his indifference to any special pleading on behalf of the "originality" of our poems, that keeps our art honest... I've always liked the old-school idea of poetry as simply another kind of reading material that intellectually curious folks can take an interest in. It's an honorable notion worth preserving, and a welcome corrective to the avant-wankery of our era.

- Carmine Starnino, from a 2006 interview in Northern Poetry Review. You can read the whole thing here.

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