Wednesday, October 24, 2012

"Correct" Interpretations

Poems are taught as though the poet has put a secret key in his words and it is the reader's job to find it.
--Natalie Goldberg, Writing Down the Bones

Regrettably, most of us learned to interpret literature and poems at school, an environment where there usually is a "correct" interpretation: the teacher-sanctioned interpretation that earns a good grade. Was this true for you?

I've got news for you: you're not in school anymore. Screw getting a good grade. There's absolutely no need for officially sanctioned interpretations of anything, including intepretations of what you write. This will become even more obvious when you write something with one idea in mind, and your readers interpret it in a way that never even occurred to you.

Write what you want and encourage your readers to interpret it however they like. There's no answer key to writing, poetry, movies, art or any other creative discipline.