How far (if at all) should a poet explain his (or her) work? I have always been of the view that poets should leave it to the interpretation of readers to determine what their verses mean. To explain all risks treating readers like young children who must be spoon fed. Furthermore, detailed explanations by the poet remove the joy experienced by many lovers of poetry of reaching their own conclusions concerning a poem’s meaning.
Recently, 2 people have expressed the view (on 2 separate occasions in face-to-face conversations) that explanations as regards a poem’s meaning (or what caused me to write it) would be helpful. During the 2 occasions on which I have given poetry readings, I have included a brief explanation concerning the poem’s origins. However I remain of the view that to furnish chapter and verse in respect of a poem’s meaning detracts from the enjoyment of reaching one’s own (often unique) conclusion. One gentleman with whom I discussed the matter suggested that notes could be appended to poems concerning their origin and/or meaning with a caveat that those who wished to come to their own conclusion should skip them. While this is an interesting idea, I don’t want to turn into a didact, I am, after all a poet not a teacher.
As always I would be interested in my reader’s views.