Poem Interpretation Study: Gender Based?

Berlin Street by Red Haircrow

Berlin Street by Red Haircrow

Is poem interpretation and understanding divided by gender, or even sexuality?


I recently posted at poem of mine at “Gay Authors-Quality Gay Fiction” and had a reply from a female bisexual. Although that was the first “official” showing of it on a website, I had privately sought review and response from friends and colleagues regarding.

They were all gay or bisexual men, and despite having a range of warmth towards it, they all reached the same conclusion about the underlying meaning. The young woman found it disturbing. Please give me your thoughts.

Berlin

by Red Haircrow

I want to lay
against the milky denim of the sky
before I settle carefully
over the edges of the buildings,
before I melt to flow along
the streets and spill my waters
into the park lands
and green places.
I’ll flow along the tracks
and take the electricity
into me, give it back
into the peoples and they,
full knowing totally oblivious
will move to the song I sing,
dance with the abandon of determination
and speak their languages,
blowing breath back up
to the heavens
where I’ll return to rest
and suck it into my mouth.

The young woman’s response in part:

“I can’t quite decide what I think about this poem. I love the prose, and, technically, think it’s well done (please bear in mind this is only a subjective opinion–and from someone who cannot write poetry, no less :P). Anyhow, I also find it disturbing, but maybe my mental connections are all out of whack. When I read this, it seemed like a romantised version of suicide. I know, I probably have that all wrong, but:

“before I settle carefully
over the edges of the buildings,
before I melt to flow along
the streets and spill my waters”

Okay, so I think, going over a tall building and blood being the ‘spill my waters’. Actually, even the first line reads as if the person wants to die to move on to something better.

Well, I guess the overwhelming feelings I have after reading this are worry, concern, sadness.

Then again, it could be that I assume this to be from a person–perhaps this is a journey of the wind/rain over the city of Berlin….”


My response: ” No it’s not about suicide at all but rather a connection with the earth and the old gods. It is a song of joy of the god who can change form to sometimes walk among the city he protects and loves, to move among the mortals and take energy from their worship before he returns to his celestial home.

It’s the joy I feel in walking the streets of my hometown which is Berlin, and the sensual feelings it can give. Laying, melting, flowing and spilling are all references to intimacy and male orgasm with it’s dynamic release of semen, and especially the ending:

“…where I’ll return to rest
and suck it into my mouth.”

So in many ways, what you felt from the poem was completely opposite. I am quite surprised you gleaned worry, concern, sadness from it. But it is curious, as the men who’ve read this poem got the allusions immediately and found the poem positive and sexually charged as it was meant to be.”

The original dialogue in whole can be found on GA’s Poetry Discussion.

So, what are your thoughts? What did you “feel” from my poem? A romanticized view of suicide or what was intended?

Do you think poetry interpretation is gender or sexuality based? Can background, culture and nationality also be a factor? Anything’s possible. I’m interested.

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