In this technological era of direct textual manipulation, we must always acknowledge our own agency as readers. If we hate a text, we may no longer blame the text. Instead, evaluate the text with a particular eye for discovering, within it, that which you can love. Because the thing has not failed you. Rather, you have failed.
Reread the last book that you’ve hated, committing yourself to love it.
Do not expect to experience this love in a linear and continuous manner.
Read quickly, ignoring every element of the text that you might detest.
Flag every element of the text that you are capable of appreciating.
Transcribe all flagged materials.
Not a book I hated, but one I had set aside as a difficult read. A book of essays, some about poetry, others about other forms of writing outside my interests or range of reading. I’ve chosen to select text from Edge, Essays, Reviews, Interviews, by Mary Dalton, (pp. 178-182, 185-186) a Newfoundland poet whose work I greatly admire. This is from her discussion of the Boatman series of paintings by Newfoundland artist, Gerald Squires. This exercise has given me a different way to approach the essays when I resume reading it in the next week or so. It also made me realize that the difficulty is mine, and is one of focus (and that I should not try to read a book with the television on, volume turned down or not).
The figure hovering
chaotic and ill-formed
a smashed skull
within this mass
the tumult of water
an angel crying out in
the otherworld of corkscrew forms
the spiral evolution of universe
flux beneath the sea
a fish rides the great wave
all ribs and bones
nothing left but its sound
and the wild waters
drowning the moon
Carol A. Stephen
April 15, 2016