Essay on the Ideal (Poetry) Reader

by | Mar 14, 2017 | Essays

 

The ideal reader is not easily digestible.

The ideal reader buys a poetry collection and expects to read an anthology. If the poems in the poet’s collection appear to have been written by the same poet then the ideal reader stops reading the collection and has also the right to test the book’s combustible nature.

The ideal reader of this century judges a book by its cover.

Unless stated otherwise, the ideal reader is awake during the reading of the book.

In a recent trip to Cannes I read ideally into the price of my baguette sandwich, which was 19 Euros. I started by adding the price of the compiling products: 1 Euro for the baguette + 30 cents for the ham + 30 cents for the tomato + 2 cents for the lettuce. I became baffled with how they could reach 19 Euros, also taking into consideration the little labour that went into it. My reaction to the price of my baguette sandwich was a loud ‘What the fuck?’ which was ideal and necessary for that situation and always has been ideal for reading and reacting to poetry.

If there is meaning, the ideal reader always interferes with it.

If there is no meaning, the ideal reader celebrates.

The problem with Eliot is that he found many ideal readers but they were all inside his poetry. Prufrock, for instance, with his neurotic indecisiveness, constant questioning and emasculating anxiety, is the best ideal reader. Madame Sosostris, on the other hand, is the worst ideal reader for obvious reasons, but an ideal reader nonetheless.

What the ideal reader does to the poem is the equivalent of a colonoscopy.

The ideal reader is impressed by nothing.

The ideal reader always assumes that each poem could be the last poem. The ideal reader always assumes that each poem could be the poet’s first or last poem, or first and last poem.

An ideal reader once told me that he was ‘reading the fuck out of my book.’ When asked he explained to me that the phrase is common in two cases: when you read a book many times or when you read a nonsensical book while trying to make sense of it. To this day I am unsure in which of the two ways he was complimenting me.

If there is a purpose, the ideal reader is part of it.

The problem with Ashberry’s ideal readers is that they are not born yet or they don’t know how to read yet.

The ideal reader is prepared to find holes in the poetry book, both literal and metaphorical.

Theoretically speaking, the ideal reader is a theory.

The ideal reader doesn’t care about the purpose of the book, unless there is no purpose.

What the ideal reader finds in a book of poetry is different from what the poet wrote, but is maybe similar to what the poet intended to write but didn’t.

The problem with Ryan, like the problem with Dickinson, is that her ideal reader is not ideal enough.

Everyone has an ideal reader. That is not to say that each ideal reader is exclusive to one person. One ideal reader might be ideal for more than one poet. I am sure I have an ideal reader but I am afraid that there is only one.

The ideal reader doesn’t seek creativity in a poem in the fear of finding it.

The ideal reader knows that the only way to find meaning is by creating it.

The problem with Pound is that he didn’t find any readers and any reader ideal.
If you read for pleasure you are almost definitely not an ideal reader. The only pleasure the ideal reader finds in reading a book is when it ends.

In a recent trip to Nice I realised how imperfectly people read street signs and I lost hope for the ideal poetry reader or ideal readers in general.

The ideal reader doesn’t digest easily.

Everyone could be an ideal reader, and no one is.

Theoretically speaking, the ideal reader is on the page before the poet.

The ideal reader knows the limitations of the senses. The ideal reader cannot only rely on the eyes; smelling the text is equally important, if not necessary. The ideal reader understands the complications of tasting the book but does it anyway.

If you blink you are not an ideal reader.

The ideal reader of this century checks the time while reading the book. If while reading the book time moves seemingly slowly, the ideal reader realizes how bad the book is. If time moves seemingly fast, the ideal reader gives credit to the book’s ability to hypnotize. If time moves seemingly fast backwards, even the ideal reader cannot realize how incredible the book is.

An ideal reader once told me that the first and last words are not important, and everything in between is less important.

The ideal reader knows all the words but doesn’t recognize any configuration or pattern.

Unless stated otherwise, the ideal reader remains alive after reading the book.

Critics, editors and flowers are not and can never be ideal readers. Anaesthesiologists, dentists, podiatrists, surgeons, architects, surveyors, soldiers, health inspectors, air traffic controllers, bakers and botanists, all have the capacity of becoming ideal readers. Artificial flower makers, astronomers, beekeepers, butlers, button makers, unfortunately, cannot easily be ideal readers. Barristers could be ideal readers. Veterinarians, garbage men and janitors are very god ideal readers. Sponges are the best ideal readers.

The ideal reader doesn’t understand the difference between reading and writing.

An ideal reader once told me that she reads books like restaurant menus: hopeful that she will find something to please her appetite, but aware that she probably won’t.

The ideal reader cares about the name on the book, but has no interest in who that name is. The ideal reader is interested in the name, but has no benefit in knowing what that name has been through, how it became a name, or where the name comes from. The ideal reader couldn’t care less for the race, age, sex, sexual orientation, political affiliation, parental background, wealth or disabilities of the name.

OCD patients are not good enough ideal readers.

The ideal reader does not go weak at the knees. If anything, while reading the book, the knees might feel stronger.

If you are confident in your ability to ignore the purpose of the book you might be an ideal reader.

The ideal reader knows that even the ‘the’ might be a symbol of something in a poem.

What the ideal reader does with the book of poetry is similar to playing Jenga, not monopoly. This game of Jenga, however, is played in reverse: the ideal reader stacks the pieces and the poet keeps knocking them down, sometimes deliberately.

Pound’s example might show that if you are an ideal reader you might not be able to find any ideal readers for yourself.

The ideal reader knows that meaning and effect are different. One is a possibility and the other is wishful thinking.

The ideal reader of this century is pleased with the images found on Facebook and Instagram, but never pleased with the images found in a book of poetry.

Unless stated otherwise, the ideal reader waits for the pages of the book to turn themselves.

In reading Paradise Lost, an ideal reader skips the Adam and Eve scenes and reads only Satan’s dialogues and monologues.

If you think poetry is in the service of something I feel sorry for you.

The problem with Glück’s ideal readers is that they are not ideal when they start reading her books but they are ideal by the end.

The ideal reader is not devastated by lack of meaning. The ideal reader is only devastated by meaning.

An ideal reader (same ideal reader as before) told me that once she literally threw brown sugar on the pages of a poetry book because it was tasteless.

The ideal reader expects to find no poetry in poems.

My ideal reader is not you.

The ideal reader is always one step ahead of the poet, and always meandering three steps behind the poem.

If you believe what you are reading you are not an ideal reader.

What the ideal reader reads is different from what a traditional reader reads.

The problem with Vuong is that the ideal reader has been waiting for too long and I think has grown impatient and hungry.

The ideal reader doesn’t care about the purpose of the book, unless it is a picture book.

The ideal reader of this century keeps recorded reactions of the reading of the book and then edits them into a horror movie.

The ideal reader writes the book before it is read.

A Plagiarism Checker: an ideal reader.

The ideal reader expects to find poetry in prose. The ideal reader spends months and years looking for it with the help of a flashlight and metal detector, and doesn’t find it.

The ideal reader does what everyone is afraid to do: take a close look at the poem.

The question that is important now is: ideal for whom?

 

Christos Kalli, born in Larnaca, Cyprus, is currently studying for his undergraduate degree in English Literature at the University of Glasgow. His most recent poems can be found / are forthcoming in The American Journal of Poetry, The Adroit Journal, minnesota review, Poetry City, USA, [PANK], The Maine Review, among others. He has also written reviews for The Los Angeles Review and Carillon Magazine, and is currently a Poetry Reader for The Adroit Journal.

 

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