Several thoughts: Some poems do not give up meaning easily, but spur you to do several or many readings. They may present difficulty for a reason; they may require a more patient, slower, and open mode during which patterns and multiple meanings may–or may not–become apparent. On the other hand, poems containing unfamiliar language(s) also present us with mystery, perhaps even a “gate,” “wall,” or “border.” It’s not clear if they are inviting you to learn more, pointing to difference, or trying to confound you as reader. Perhaps all three. Or more. Languages are after all more than a system that directly translates to meaning within some context. They are also made up of phonemes, codes, images, shapes, and they live in the larger context of the poem and the poet’s and reader’s environment. I prefer to go on the assumption that a poem itself is an invitation. Only by entering the poem, reading and rereading it can some significance emerge. And that significance may point to complexity and difficulty as well as potentiality. For more on this, check out Reading the Difficulties, essays by:
Charles Bernstein / Carrie Conners / Thomas Fink /
Kristen Gallagher / Judith Halden-Sullivan / Paolo Javier /
Burt Kimmelman / Hank Lazer / Jessica Lewis Luck /
Stephen Paul Miller / Sheila E. Murphy / Elizabeth Robinson /
Christopher Schmidt / Eileen R. Tabios
See also Barbara Jane’s poems in the current issue (Fall 2014) of Local Nomad.