Saturday, May 17, 2008
Varieties of Reading
In "In Pursuit of Reading," my old friend Don Brown has posted a long and interesting set of reflections on the different modes of reading he has gone through in his life, from his pre-college days (he only went to college at 26) of voracious reading "for himself" though the experiences of various kinds of lists chosen by others in college and grad school to lists he chose when teaching courses and all the reading of student work that he has to do. A fascinating post that I highly recommend.
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Hey, thanks! The funny thing is I got carried away and never quite got to my "real" topic, which was the difference between reading as research for a particular subject, and reading as background, to find ideas or details. Maybe I'll get to that distinction in a later entry.
But I'm also curious about how poets read and what they read for ideas. For instance, I read your poem about Hardy listening to Louis Armstrong (which was nicely imagined, one of your more effective poems, I thought), but I'm interested in how a poet selects some detail like that, and then determines it's a subject for a poem.
What my point was on the blog before I got distracted was that "creative writing" requires "creative reading" and I don't think there's any way to teach that, but there's no substitute for it either. I also don't know how it works, but I seem to know when I'm doing it because most other kinds of reading are a chore!
I happened to read Jude the Obscure around the same time I got Armstrong's Hot Fives and Hot Sevens, and I was struck by the fact that Hardy could have heard Armstrong, when they do not seem to have come from the same age. I read lots of Hardy poems that I plundered for words ...
i noticed the "plundering" -- but I thought maybe Hardy actually did hear it... anyway it's a great idea!
I read around enough to know that Hardy had lots of young friends in the 20s who might have been hip to jazz from the U.S.; he was doing lots of theater productions at his house with them! But I did not find any information on what kind of music he was listening to.
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