Sunday, May 08, 2005

reading(s) & writing

I have been considering my reaction to the topic of this recent post by Ron Silliman.
"It’s been at least three decades, for example, since Bromige first noted just how often I can be seen at a reading jotting something down into a notebook. It is rare, actually, that what I am scribbling relates directly  to the reading (tho at times there will be depiction of the event itself). Rather, I find that mental space of confronting the well written word aurally is a remarkable – unsurpassed, in fact – tool for turning over the language in one’s own mind/experience/ daily life as well. Thus I find myself at a reading listening to the text, observing the event & often composing something completely different all at once. Sometimes I feel that I will wander – get too far away from the reader’s text, or forget literally my own environment if I get “absorbed” into a work – but I usually can make myself return if I try."
My natural arrogance does not let me think for a single moment that I would give a bad &/or boring reading. My natural humility excludes the possibility that I might so inspire/influence someone that they felt the need to haul out a notebook & start writing. So my initial reaction would be to become pissed off at anyone in the audience that starting doing this. My second reaction would be getting even more irritated & pissed off. & my third reaction would be thinking to myself that it's a good thing that I'm not an aggressive person, because otherwise I'd get so irritated & pissed off that I'd stop reading & go out into the audience & punch their fucking lights out.

But then, I'm not a notebook sort of person.


Martin Edmond said...

I'd be the same ... except my (natural) vanity might suggest a review & my (unnatural) paranoia, plagiarism.

richard lopez said...

agreed. I've noted the same at readings and thought that individuals scribbling madly away at their notebooks was a sort of arrogance re: their own particular type of genius, that they only deign to hear another read, and can't be bothered to pay attention to other poets. when I'm at a reading, I'm there to hear that poet read, so I give him/her my full attention. tho, I've had watched other poets take notes of the reader, in fact, I noticed one poet show me his notes taken at one of my readings, quoting lines and the banter in between poems.

Tom Beckett said...

On the other hand, mates, often I'll jot notes of what I'm hearing at a reading. It can be an aid to memory later on as one attempts to reconstruct and think about the event. It's easy to quickly lose one's touch points.

I agree it can be unnerving. When I read several years ago at San Francisco State's Poetry Center, all the grad students' pens were dervishly active. I was their homework (partially) and it creeped me out.