Monday, August 31, 2009

In these great times

"In the beginning was the review copy, and a man received it from the publisher. Then he wrote a review. Then he wrote a book which the publisher accepted and sent on to someone else as a review copy. The man who received it did likewise. This is how modern literature came into being."

"Most critics write critiques which are by the authors they write critiques about. That would not be so bad, but then most authors write works which are by the critics who write critiques about them."

"A poem is good until one knows by whom it is."

"Most writers have no other quality than the reader: taste. But the latter has the better taste, because he does not write--and the best if he does not read."

-- Karl Kraus (1874-1936), tr. by Harry Zohn

I would argue that any amount of difficulty is justified in a poem: so too is any amount of simplicity, provided, in both cases, the poet is doing something sufficiently interesting and memorable with language. The problem with some accessible poetry is not its accessibility, but that it is verbally uninteresting. And some difficult post-modern poems are dull because they are de-personalised and samey, like Tolstoy's happy families. -- Carol Rumens; full article here

Pictured: Lesley Dill, Dress of Inwardness (2006), inspired by Emily Dickinson

1 comment:

Michael Robbins said...

I'll have whatever Harry Zohn was smoking.

A poem is good until one knows whom it's by.

Oh, look, English!