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Friday, February 18, 2005

'Who do you write for?'

This question off PoetryEtc, poetry list ...

> I wonder if I might ask this "old" question:
> Whom do poets write for? What is the "audience" we seek
> to communicate with?
> Tom

Yes, an old question, but one that is always as equally relevant as it is not.

I (really) write for myself - to get my inside self outside, to be able to see it. (As in 'I see what you mean'.)

Then, when I have words on paper, I often times show them to friends. They boo and hiss or laugh and applaud. Whatever.

So, my ego-based self says, Maybe this will win me some attention and some further applause from strangers, so I send it to a publishing medium - mag or publisher or email list or whatever. Then I ignore them when they appear out of some perverse self-preservation mechanism.

Illustrative of my thoughts on all this is my first publication. I used to frequent a coffee house in Perth called The Coffee Pot when I was a teenager. I was playing drums and thoroughly into modern jazz at the time, and poetry was a kind of 'hip' sideline - pseudo beat poetry in rebellion against the Milton and such I learnt at school (a classical school). I wrote a 'cool' poem about Oscar Peterson's 'Porgy & Bess' album -which was couched in pseudo hip language (I was a very white boy in an isolated capital of the failed British Empire, so what kind of hip could I be?) - but the poem turned out to be more about the Coffee Pot and the 'ambience' than the music itself, so I showed it to the woman who ran the joint (who of course I had a crush on!) ... She loved it and stuck it up on the wall with my name attached to the base. I took all my mates in to see it on various nights ... My first note of fame ... It hasn't got much bigger than that, and I still love the memory of that first publication - like a Broadsheet on an old forest tree.


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