This Prose is for Me

Most of my poetry and prose is for me. I don’t expect many of my readers to get them, they are windows into my mind and sometimes those provide terrifying glimpses into my own possibilities. I do hope people enjoy my “poetry” and can appreciate that I have only been writing it for a year now. We can only write to get better.

I recently read an article about interpretations and how often people interpret what a writer “meant” in the wrong way. This is either due to poor reading skills, a large ego that supersedes the writer’s, or simply because humans like to make shit up. In high school my Pre-AP English teacher loved to make stuff up. “Oh Thoreau was trying to say that this that and the other…” she would sigh as she looked out the window and imagined herself at Walden’s lake. The problem is that I, as a student, pretty much thought she was full of crap the whole time she was talking.

The article I read was about either a reporter or author who took the time to interview famous authors in order to record their own translations of their work. The amusing part is that this person then took this information and somehow spliced it next to well known English professors that had written or spoken on these authors books. Most of their “interpretations” were completely wrong and had nothing to do with what the author intended. Have you ever met someone that thought they could read a novel or piece of literature and immediately preach about it? I won’t mention the bible at this point then.

Poetry and prose are interesting to write because the “key” to unlocking them is in the mind of the writer. Only he or she really knows what was intended by the words used… or not used. Be careful as a reader at jumping to conclusions about the state or frame of mind of a writer, unless you know them personally in real life. You can “think” all you want, but knowing is knowing. There is a difference.

-OM

42 thoughts on “This Prose is for Me

  1. I think what most grabs me about poetry is the language and the imagery…I often don’t understand or need to…though sometimes I think I’m a dope for not “getting” it lol

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  2. I have been exploring mindfulness lately, and trying to wrap my head around the premise that thoughts aren’t reality. Just because we think something doesn’t make it so. Thanks for the follow on my new poetry blog. I’m enjoying reading through yours.

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  3. I began my college career as a literature major, and quickly left in my first semester (for anthropology). I could not bring myself to pick through someone’s life work and presume meaning, intent, or perception of the author. I loved this piece. Good show.

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  6. often people interpret what a writer “meant” in the wrong way.

    Sometimes we get it , other times we do not. But once published the author loses control over interpretation. What he meant becomes irrelevant because meaning is now found by the beholder and each opinion has validity in subjective reality.

    I regret that my English professors over 45 years ago thought they were elite and in possession of author intent and therefore quite extravagant in giving certainly me and others F’s in their courses for being a “jackass and an idiot” and suggesting we should stick to coloring books and the sports page. I changed to history major and yet there is the same thing but historians seem to be more tolerant of alternative understanding than stodgy old English professors and the wise one’s see that the truth lies in a sense of inclusion of varied opinions. .

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  7. I enjoy this considerably – mainly because truly as is art – literature is so damn subjective. But that is the beauty of it isn’t it? Taking away our won meanings that may be relevant to ourselves.
    The problem I guess comes in with the ‘preaching part’, as you say – but yet – it is a wonderful discussion opener – and seeing how others interpret words can often tell us a lot about there own state of mind or situations they find themselves in.
    When my daughter was trying to work out how to do that dreaded assessing of poetry in English Lit – she said something that so hit home with me:
    ‘If I REALLY had to go into everything these poems COULD mean – I could write an entire book! Whats the point?’
    I think the thing is that we can take so much away from literature and other arts – and it IS just that SUBJECTIVE depending on so many factors.
    That THAT is the reason we can never REALLY understand what the author really intended – unless we ask them. In my case – hell I dont even know at times and take different things away from my writing at different stages of life 😉

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  8. You know what I love most about you? You just down right honest! You say the things that we never know exactly “how” to say, but this is what you teach…one doesn’t have to know “how” to say anything, you just simply say it! Thank you. Oh the internet and the people we meet, all over the world 🙂 Great posts xxx

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  9. I don’t think you can ever KNOW the heart of a writers work. Like many things in this world it is more about our own experiences providing the lens with which we read anothers words. Often I think what is important is what you carry away from it. A writer writes to express themselves and others can appreciate that expression but I would think they would rarely grasp all the writer tells.

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    • Of course you can, you just need to talk to them. Ask Roger Waters about what he was thinking when he wrote his lyrics and he won’t shut up about it (in a good way).

      If the writer does not want to talk about it, or wants people to interpret it their own way, then they won’t talk about it. But saying you can never know is a bit extreme.

      Not all writing is about self expression, sometimes it’s just for others to consume as they see fit.

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  10. I disagree. You, as a writer, may attempt conveying a specific message, but it is the mind of the reader, not yours, which completes the visualisation of your words. If that visualisation accords with your intended meaning, fine. But words are not your property. Everyone has the right to interpret them as they will. And their interpretation is as legitimate (or otherwise) as your own.

    And if it so pains you that your readers have the different idea than your intended one, realise it is YOUR failure as a writer, since you failed in translating your idea into appropriate words. If you mean to say something specific, put it in words that will be understood by everyone. Any good wordsmith should be able to do that.

    If you can’t, well… I have here a message which won’t be very gentle on your ego.

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