I caught the inaugural show of the Poet As Radio last Saturday (May 21st), which had a great interview with Sarah Rosenthal, author of A Community Writing Itself: Conversations with Vanguard Writers of the Bay Area.
Rosenthal made a terrific comment on “experimental” or “difficult” poetry. “Experimental writing can mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people,” she said. “But one of the things it tends to mean is that the poet or the writer has left room for the reader to–there’s not this idea of delivering the whole cloth meaning to the passive reader . . . . It’s an engagement, it’s an interaction, it’s co-creating the meaning and each reader is invited to co-create that meaning in his or her own way.”
I love the sense of the poet and reader engaged in the mutual activity of creating meaning together–isn’t that what we should be doing (ideally) in all areas of our lives? It’s definitely one of the things I find incredibly satisfying about reading poetry.
The founders of Poet As Radio are Nicholas Leaskou, Jay Thomas and Delia Tramontina, all of whom are very fine poets and artists themselves. They named the show after Jack Spicer’s idea that the poet is a conduit, not a creator, and I think Spicer would appreciate the doubling effect going on here with the poets/radios floating their words back on the radio waves. Recently I’ve been conducting some lucid dreaming experiments in order to “catch” my own radio signals to put into poetry–with some very interesting results!
You can check out the archived episode at www.savekusf.org. The second half of the Sarah Rosenthal interview will air on Saturday, May 22nd at 9am.