Friday, May 1, 2009

Some Darker Bouquets: a Roundtable

A letter by Kent Johnson, responding to an editorial comment and three reviews by Jason Guriel, published in the March 2009 issue of Poetry, resulted in a roundtable of responses at MAYDAY magazine featuring:

V. Joshua Adams : : Joe Amato : : Robert Archambeau : : Tim Atkins : : Robert Baird : : John Beer :: John Bradley : : Stephen Burt : : Scott Esposito : : Annie Finch : : Bill Freind : : Daisy Fried :: Johannes Göransson : : Mark Halliday : : John Latta : : David Lau : : Eric Lorberer : : Maureen McLane :: Ange Mlinko : : Murat Nemet-Nejat : : Tom Orange : : David Orr : : Richard Owens : : Rebecca Porte :: Kristin Prevallet : : Michael Robbins : : Michael Theune : : Barry Schwabsky : : Don Share : : Dale Smith :: Rodrigo Toscano : : Mark Wallace

1 comment:

Chris Hamilton-Emery said...

The only nagging concern about the "kick 'em in the nuts" approach to criticism is that neither this, nor the righteous rimming of the career-trajectory praise-model has any purchase on the public mind.

I read that Annie had given up on the idea of a general (i.e. non-poet) readership, but that's where the money is in our game. What's missing isn't the knife fights, it's readers. My experience is that the main poetry readership doesn't read poetry magazines. But this is a UK-centric prejudice. Our main magazines sell less than 2,000 copies. Modern Poetry in Translation sells less than 100. Yet some collections can sell in the 10s of thousands. Maybe the issue isn't about the approach to criticism but the placing of it.

I'm with Kent in this respect, that no poetry reader could really give a shit what most poets say because it's usually so dull, self-referential and inward looking. The specialisation and industrial competence has actually become a kind of inbred buck-toothed, cyclops kind of thing. What we need is a mass break out.

Some think that the idea of readership is a utopian idea in today's market. I suspect for many, they have their utopias already. Well-tenured, socially insular, convinced of its own arguments in an age of post-readership.