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Reader/Writer Relationships

Side note: It would be a sidenote if I could do a textbox here which technically I can’t so I’ll settle for new post.

It’s funny, when people do this book meme that’s going around, and list genre novels people pop up and say oh yes, I love that book too. Most people seem to have listed novels, and classic novels.

I’ve heard people criticize people who list what poetry they read (not for this meme but in general) in a way that doesn’t happen when people list the sci-fi or fantasy they consume. (One can’t afford to accommodate detractors into one’s reckoning or one would always be silent or apologetic.)

I wonder why. What would the basis be, if what I observed is representative?

Is poetry positioned differently, not as a neutral pleasure so much? Is it groupism? Some tribalism? Is it about audience or ascribed motivation?

Is it because the relationship between novel and reader and poetry book and reader are different? How so? If I write about a novel I read, 200,000+ people have read it (perhaps because Oprah told them to). The writer can’t track all the responses. There’s a gap there. There isn’t a need for accountability. There’s anonymity of writer and of reader.

More poetry is self-published than novels. The scale of readership is smaller, unless you’re Billy Collins perhaps. If I write about a poetry book I read, the circulation is smaller and the probability of the writer tracking feedback is higher.

That happens in genre fiction too when it’s an audience with a small vocal fan base.

More people read novels who never write any nor aspire to, but it seems more people write poetry than read it.

The first stage of poetry is to actively write and say omg, what is this strange prose that fell out of me, omg it’s a poem isn’t it and look at it like the measles before you realize this fascinating spots mean that you may be fevered and ill before long.

On the other hand the first stage of introduction to novels is to passively read? Is that true or would have any bearing? I think I disagree with myself. Poetry is at its base form motion, repeated sounds of babbling first speech and extends to things more complex than novels. We are exposed to poetry in lullabies and music. Where does proto-novel come in? First short bedtime stories? How long does a narrative have to be before it is structurally showing the person the story arc and rudiments or full-scale novel?

Let’s say we not consistantly exposed to or develop neither novel or poem before the other. I’m not sure I know enough about people who read novels to generalize their relationship to the novels, novelists or each other.

Is it because when people say what novels they read, novels are more likely to be recognized with there being fewer publishers and titles of novels? Although dialogue between a reviewer and an author does happen, reviews or criticism is a little different than just a fan acknowledgement or a here’s what I did today, groceries, read this book, went to work, and called dear old dear.

Is the relationship between reader of poetry is more likely peer to peer than the reader of novel-reader to novelist which tends to be more unidirectional, producer and consumer? Does that then skew interpretation into power dynamics being presumed and explain why I have the sense that stating what I’m reading when its poetry has a different weight than stating what I’m reading when it’s novels? It’s a showing of cards? A showing of business cards? Or people are just more opinionated on particular poets in a way they aren’t of particular novelists? Or is it a matter of who I am reading who as individuals happen to interpret differently? If it were not known that I write poetry would it be another ballgame? (or card game?)

If I pretend I write novels, would that change dynamics of how one interprets a statement of who oen reads? Would people think that to say what novel I like would be a attempt to rub elbows and create allegiances instead of being flat as when I am not writing novels?

If I talk about poetry, is it presumed I know what I’m talking about so it’s different than when I give a general opinion on a novel? When I talk about a novel, I don’t get technical at all in my appreciation the way I do when I talk about poetry…

I think that’s off track. What I hear is not people leveling any criticism about me writing about books I like but that when others write about their reading lists of novels people buzz about looking for recommendations and its a fun place but when people list what poetry they read, there’s more of a feeling about a blog of politics and competition and back channeling remarks of snideness, of jealousy, of nitpicking, of criticism rather than love of books and language. That’s what baffles me. Why the difference? People reading novels want to hear a good story and people reading poetry want to gossip up a good back story?

I think it likely a sampling error on my part. Too little to go on.

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