Thursday, October 4, 2012

Interpretation is always personal

This morning on Facebook, Maya Angelou


posted the following:

"I’ve had people explain to me what one of my poems meant, and I’ve been surprised that it means that to them. If a person can use a poem of mine to interpret her life or his life, good. I can’t control that. Nor would I want to."

It got me to thinking about my own poetry, (and other writing)  and so this is what I wrote on FB: 

"It is mine until someone else reads it and finds their own meaning. I am always stunned to see the layers so many come up with... and pleased. My job, as I see it is not to tell a static story, but to offer a place where the reader can see a path, and find herself walking it with me, but see the things along the way that I don't see. We all look through different lenses of our own making. I am always interested to see what I "missed" and what they "found.""

In order to illustrate this, I am posting a poem I wrote many years ago (2 Lives, Kaitlyn Bragdon-Roe, Enigma Press, 1998.) I would love your feedback. What, if anything, does it mean to you? Later, I will explicate it from my point of view. But I really want your "interpretation" before I offer up my original "idea."

So, there ya go. A very old poem. I would love to hear your feedback and tell me how YOU interpret it. I look forward to hearing from you. And by the way, the person who made it possible to see this poem at all is Carolyn Capern from . Check it out... she was amazingly helpful to a new friend who is seriously technically challenged when it comes to getting a picture of a Word document.

Cheers, Y'all. 


  1. Your poem is beautiful. I am the worst at interpreting poetry, but enjoyed reading it very much. I envy those who can interpret, and even more, those who can compose, we'll done!

    1. Of course you are good at interpreting poetry Kamma! First, thanks for visiting and thanks for the compliment; however, my point in posting is that every person sees something personal in everything they read. One reader may not "see" what I see, but this reality doesn't invalidate the reader's experience, nor does it negate the author's intent while writing. What I love is the storytelling aspect of poetry. Every poem is a story. And every story has as many interpretations of theme and meaning as it has readers. I would like to hear other experiences, not because I want to criticize them, but because I learn to see differently through listening to other's experinces (and stories.)

  2. Thank you for sharing this. What a wonderful poem. There are so many things that can be said. As I read it, I see the knight and dragon as symbolic characters of the internal battle we all face at some point in our lives. There is the side of us that is dictated by our society, family, and friends (Knight) trying to live up to what we are to be. The dragon depicts the side of us that reminds us of who we were created to be. When you align the two together, you will find peace, satisfaction, and the treasure of life. There is freedom in defining who you are based on what God created you to be, rather than what others desire.

    1. What a lovely interpretation! I never thought of it that way. Thanks for the feedback, it is very helpful. I want to understand how you perceive the dragon, though. Is she a test offered to help us find our true self? Or is her embodiment the actual embodiment of the Knight's true self? I am so intrigued... Please help me understand more fully...

  3. We are all the knight. We are all the dragon. Hell, we're the riches and the damsel, too. The battle within us is always fiercest when we have to recognize what much be left behind in order to move forward toward greater, more rewarding challenges.

    It's all in how we manage to conduct the orchestra in our own heads...

    Terrific piece, grrl'fren.