In The Life of Poetry, Muriel Rukeyser prefers to use the word witness rather than reader or listener because it “includes the act of seeing or knowing by personal experience, as well as the act of giving evidence.” The overtone of responsibility in this word is not present in the others; and the tension of the law makes a climate here which is that climate of excitement and revelation giving air to the work of art, announcing with the poem that we are about to change, that work is being done on the self. These three terms of relationship—poet, poem, and witness—are none of them static. We are changing, living beings experiencing the inner change of poetry.
I have never found something written about poetry to be so true. – The Accidental Poet