I’ve been doing some readings lately for my new book. I’ve read at colleges, in the community, at art centers. I’ve sold a lot of books at these readings. I’ve watched people smile and cry at these readings. Sometimes people laugh at the right times, sometimes they laugh at the wrong times. Always, people seem to be hearing me. Except for the one deaf guy who told me I read too fast. People buy books for themselves, for their daughters, for their childhood best friends.
Poets talk a lot about how poetry is dead to mainstream culture. Nobody wants poems anymore. Well, I’m beginning to wonder about that. Have we, the poets, created an insular world for ourselves because we’re insecure about our words? Is it safer to keep ourselves sequestered in the academy–or even on the internet where we know the audience who reads our work will respond in a way familiar to us? Is it frightening to think that we might write something not quite as erudite as we imagined?