THE IDEAL (?) READER
I was going over my books to put together a stack for Mom who's off to the Philippines later this month. She and I are going to look into converting a former pig sty or storage area, some such thing, in moi old hometown. We'd like to convert it into a public library type of set-up ... more on that later.
But in going over my books, I realized that two of my last four books -- The Secret Lives of Punctuations, Vol. I and SILENCES: The Autobiography of Loss -- reveal a subtext I once thought about years ago but hadn't realized I might be starting to manifest. They could be mostly for that mythical reader who would read anything I'd write (which is not to say these books are only for that reader, but...).
When I was a newbie poet, I met an older poet who talked about this matter -- he said that he'd come to realize that his community, at best, is a dozen folks. And those are the dozen he cares most about in terms of whether each of his book resounds (positively) with them.
I don't consciously share this attitude -- I put out (in relative terms) a lot of books but I (consciously) think each can be read singly, that a reader need not pay attention to my overall work. But I can understand the affection one would have for that mythical reader (for obvious reasons: attention, commitment, care....Love).
I can only identify five (excluding Mom) who I know want to read everything I put out. And so I realize today how much that older poet had achieved. A dozen committed readers for a poet would be ... such a Joy.
But now that I realize the subtext to two of my recent books, I have to grapple with ... whether I want to write, de facto, for that mythical reader.
(In part, because, maybe, this concern is only for the poet's own lifetime...?)