Bill Knott demonstrates how to read a poem. Compare his ever-the-amateur reading (amateur in the old sense of someone doing something purely for the love of it) with this reading of Rae Armantrout by professional critic Marjorie Perloff: Knott’s reading is all about discovery, while Perloff’s is all about canonization.
The point is not to say we ought to replace Perloff with Knott, but to suggest we ought to replace Perloff’s intentions with Knott’s intentions whenever we read. That is, we ought to read as amateurs, not pros. Real poetry is written for the former, I think, though I’d be lying if I claimed that most poets don’t contemplate the reactions of the canonizers. Without the good offices of John Fuller, after all, Knott would never have discovered Digby Mackworth Dolben‘s poem.