Today I was directed via Twitter to a website featuring a writer's work, one who, as the publication says, forces the reader to head to the dictionairy "more than once per poem."
This is supposed to be a good thing, but in my view it isn't. And it isn't because, for me at least, I want to enjoy the whole experience of reading a poem in one go, without interuption.
If I have to get the dictionary out (more than once), then the flow is lost and the joy of discovering and reacting to it from the clean sheet of my mind, is lost. And that is something you cannot get back.
For example, imagine you are going to an exhibition featuring work by your favourite artist. You know there is work you've never seen in the flesh before. Perhaps you'll be lucky enough to see something you never seen before, even in photos. Imagine that moment when you see it, when your heart stops and everything you see squeezes its way into your eyes and your psyche.
What is that feeling and how powerful is it?
This is what I like to get out of all art, whether it be visual, aural or written.
Another example, travelling. When I go somewhere for the first time, I want to experience it in the most open way I can - which means with as little prior knowledge as possible (tricky in this information-driven age, but as we all know, reading about somewhere is nothing like being there).
I don't want to be told it is this old or made by this person and why: I want to feel its impact on my psyche without preconceptions, or at least with as few as possible. And even with the best intentions, prior knowledge from guides etc is biased in some way - even if its just doing it's best to give you the basics.
This is what I try to avoid: I want to explore it with my own eyes and feelings and eventually thoughts. After that, I'm happy to know whatever people think I ought to.
This is the same with poetry. I don't want to have to sit with a dictionairy by my side, I don't want to be tripped up by new words or forced off course by words that are being bent into a new shape that isn't readily understandable.
This isn't to say that these things are wrong, they just don't suit me. Et vive la difference!