Dialogue with an Audience

Dialogue with an Audience

Dialogue with an Audience

Dialogue with an Audience

Excerpt

This selection of magazine pieces is gathered, with four exceptions, from those I have written for The Saturday Review in my seven years as Poetry Editor. Two of the present pieces appeared in the old Saturday Review of Literature thirteen years ago, and two of them, written while I was SR's Poetry Editor and originally intended for SR, appeared in other magazines that happened to ask for an article and that happened to offer payment at rates SR could not match nor my greed resist. My sins noted, it is still accurate to say that all but these two SRL pieces were written from an editorial sense of SR's particular and particularly vocal readership. They are part of a dialogue I have been having with an audience.

The most characteristic thing I know about that audience is that to write for it is precisely to engage in a dialogue.

The Letters to the Editor page is SR's family rumpus room and anyone may join in the free-for-all. Let me say that I have refused to take any part in selecting the letters to be printed on that page. Three or four times in the last seven years, Norman Cousins has sent me letters he thought involved SR policy and has asked me to reply. With those exceptions, I read the letters to the editor when the readers do-- after they have appeared in print.

I do read them, to be sure, as I read the thousands of letters addressed directly to me. I have, moreover, crisscrossed the country on free-swinging lecture tours in the course of which I have talked to many thousands of SR readers face to face. By now I think I know this audience.

It is no monolithic thing: how could it be? But certainly its central . . .

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