To Footnote or Not to Footnote?
Blog Posted:7/3/2014 8:47:00 PM
I once read a statement that a poet should not explain or interpret his/her work. That in doing so, it breaks the contract between writer and reader. The work should stand on its own, hence no exegesis is or should be required. That has been my practice in the past, the exception being some notes in the "About this poem" section, which in a few cases, I have used to deconstruct the poem, explaining the references and metaphors used.
Normally, this suits me fine, but on multiple occasions, when I enter a poem in a contest, I have found that the poem places very low, even though well constructed, has interesting metaphors and references, multi-level meanings and good content. At least on two or three occasions, I can only conclude that the poem must have been beyond the comprehension level of the judge. Nothing else makes any sense.
Recently, some comments suggested that I add a footnote to a poem. Several comments following that one said that the footnotes really helped.Some said that they learned a lot by reading the footnotes. I have decided to do this for a while to see how it works out. I am not being patronizing. I know several of the regulars are well-grounded in literature and other fields and have no such need.
What do you think?