N.B. This is a poem I started a while back ago in my head and somewhat translated in fragments to paper. Most of it was regarding my frustration in general with how authors were treating reviewers as target practice/in unprofessional ways and also a measure which I told myself “If any author starts personally attacking me because of a critical review, I’m just going to post a poem response and let it speak for itself.”
Since the whole Kathleen Hale mess, I felt more prompted to just post something. This may not be the final version of this poem, more like word vomit, but maybe you might get something from it.
Let Me Read
by Rose Summers
“Just let me read” – the only plea I’d ever ask
I’m dubious these days how long that peace will last.
I’d open a book to turn its fluttering pages
Or scroll through digital ink screens to keep up with the ages.
If it doesn’t strike my fancy, I’d write a rant,
“No sir, no ma’am, with this story, I just can’t.”
But to some, this seems a verifiable offense
You say I’m wasting time at YOUR expense,
“Why’d you even read it? You’re just a hater!”
My hands raise to yield, no big debater –
No more books from you to me, see you later!
Yet then that option brings its own curse
“How can you hate on books you’ve never read? You’re the WORST!”
I throw up my palms, thinking I can’t win
To these assumptions, I don’t know where to begin.
“Just let me read” – let me read in peace
Reading brings forth it’s own measure of release
Like or hate, I still like to relate
My thoughts and ideas to minds who can’t wait
Because no two people have the same interpretations,
That’s one reason why we share, to further our relations
Over things that don’t sit with us quite right,
Or gush over things that keep us up half the night.
“Just let me read” – reading places its own seed.
Somehow I’m vaguely aware that you have mouths to feed.
But it’s the same for me, this is time and money I’m taking
Over matters that I think are well worth debating.
If I feel offended by portrayals that are problematic
Why should I hold my tongue and allow them to stay static?
I really don’t believe in false bliss,
Don’t even believe in projecting an empty diss.
So before you come at me with flying fists,
Maybe you should really listen to this.
I write critical opinions
Doesn’t make me lurk the devil’s dominions
If I somehow think that the book you’ve written
Doesn’t leave my heart completely smitten.
With a crummy experience, I sometimes harp-
Yes, my words, like bees, can sting quite sharp
But this isn’t to you or even about you
It’s about the experience you’re taking me through.
If it’s a measure that I don’t want to touch,
Then at the very least, I should think I could say as much,
But no, this experience is all about you
Your interpretations, your relations, your exacerbations
That my criticisms, to you, are like lacerations.
Why show up at my door
Telling me my comprehension is poor?
That’s not what giving any opinion is for,
You demand me to give you more.
That I should bow at your behest.
Here I’m thinking, surely you jest.
That I should praise you for just showing up
When my frustrations fill to the lip of a cup.
“Just let me read” – is it so wrong
That I feel the need to say what doesn’t belong?
That I don’t like the way something is said
A lack of motivation has me seeing red?
Or maybe a favorite character is left for dead?
Should it really matter that what I’ve read
Is different from the vision you had in your head?
I’m just one mind
How is that a threat to find?
“Just let me read” – I’m no such bully
With projected motivations you place on me fully.
That I’m a failed writer (Haven’t even really tried…)
That I’m just jealous (if I refute, you’d say I’d lied!)
I’m not the reason for the tears you’ve shed
Or the reason you lie awake in your bed
Waiting for praises I’ve never thought to say
Reading experiences just don’t work that way.
“Just let me read” for myself
For goodness sake, I don’t need your help
Knowing what to take from these words on a page
Watching these players dance on the projected stage.
If something, in my words, doesn’t belong
Is taking the consideration to fix it so wrong?
It shouldn’t be taken as pointing out what’s weak
Or belittling my person when I choose to speak
In a crowd of faces that pipe the praise,
A lone beacon that shines through the haze.
Don’t shame me for my open mind,
To voice upon things that I tend to find.
It’s not that I should like see you bleed.
For everything in it all, I just want to read.