More people write poetry than read it, used to be a kind of joke against poets. But poet and essayist Brian Blanchfield rather likes it that so many people write poetry, and that reading poetry so quickly turns into wanting to write poetry. This suggests that reading poetry is a particularly active form of reading, that reading poetry is very close to writing poetry, as the reader moves through the actions and travels a particular poem takes. (Brian Blanchfield also writes essays using a method involving never looking anything up and allowing misreadings and misrememberings their own creative flourishing, which is the method I too am using, so this account of his thinking may not be entirely accurate.) Writing poetry, he also observes, is the form of writing most like reading, a form of writing in which poets write at a distance from themselves, and when the poem works it works by surprising the poet as much as later readers. I have very recently started posting images on Instagram, with one collection of photos mostly of my hens and sometimes of books I am reading and reading nests I make to read them in, and one account just for posting pictures of squares. I felt a surge of excitement when I thought of taking pictures of squares, and it gives me the feeling of being a kind of artist when I find myself looking out for good squares, and finding the right angle in which the squares will come out most squarely. As an artist, I am like the poet who doesn’t read poetry. This isn’t quite true, I do look at art, more even than I take photos of squares, but I don’t think of my photos of squares as art, really, and I do not look at art in order to understand my own contribution in terms of a conceptual field I am entering, or to find approaches to the visual that might resonate with and inform my own. I just take pictures of squares. Even so, this practice orients me towards the world a little more like an artist than before, and makes me think what an extraordinary social shift it is, as more and more people post images on social media, towards a world in which everyone is an artist. This seems rather a lovely reorientation, a world in which everyone looks for the aesthetic value in the world they inhabit, and the lives they are living, and is interested in how it might be framed, and curated, in moments, details, juxtapositions.
These are paragraphs without essays or books to go in.