Literary Hook: When writing, always try to ask: ‘Who is my reader?’

April is National Poetry Month. For those of us who are writers, it’s a month in which we question and celebrate our art.

One of the most significant questions a poet asks is, “Who is my reader? For whom am I writing?”

Billy Collins addresses this issue frequently in his collection, The Trouble with Poetry.

Following is a short piece written by local author Barbara Santucci, addressing the same issue, “Who is my reader?”

The Reader

I saw her one afternoon at the neighborhood bookstore. Her auburn hair was pulled back in a tight ponytail, and her snug exercise clothes fit her perfectly as she browsed with her latte snuggled tight in her fist. Her eyes darted over the shelves faster than her heart rate. Leaning against the wall, she flipped through one book after another. A thin smile crossed her lips as she noticed me watching her.

I heard her mutter under her breath, “I could have written this.” She yanked her hair tighter in her ponytail, bent down and slipped the book back down on its shelf, stretching like a graceful cheetah. Rising, she flipped her Burberry scarf over her shoulder, and walked to the cookbook section, pouncing on a heavy volume of Simple Desserts.

Perhaps she will find a recipe for “Poem Cake”:

One cup of metaphor,

A half cup of simile,

Gently fluff in a haiku or two.

Whisk ten rhymes together

With a dash of rhythm.

Then add a teaspoon of assonance

And four tablespoons of humor.

Stir together for brilliance.

Bake at 350 until done.

Take out the pan when cooled.

Then watch the poem cake fall.

Christine Swanberg is a local author and poet who has written several books of poetry and formerly wrote a column called “The Writer’s Garret” for this newspaper.

from the April 25-May 1, 2007, issue

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