Monday, May 09, 2011


Read yet another article on how ___'s poetry sucks because the poems don't address the critic's view of social/cultural/political injustices. You know, that's simply not apt, even as such criticism heightens that pompous critic's (usually poet-critic's) cultural capital. Because the basis for assessing a poet's response to social/cultural/political injustice is how the poet behaves as a person, rather than the poems s/he releases.

For example, a poet who, say, writes only about the moon might be at the front lines of various activist efforts, whether it's volunteering at the Food Bank, organizing political protests, working on behalf of the impoverished elderly, etc.

If you don't want to read more clichetic moon poems, it's fine to call them cliches. But don't criticize the poet because the poems are about the moon. You'd just be a dictator then, de facto saying, write only about THIS and not about THAT.

And surely we know how the reverse is so true. How some poets who are admirable activists against abuse write ... banal or otherwise awful poems. Are those poets to get a pass because their topics are more politically correct (though only by some people's standards because what's politically correct is not an objective standard either)?

Then, of course, there are the poets who simply feel aspects of their personal lives are none of the business of their poems' readers. So you don't even know that poet as a person even as you might criticize one of hir poems using charges more apt to levy against a person rather than a poem.

This discourse, the POV raised, of course stems from the larger issue of a very flawed, but sadly too often used, basis for criticism: a criticism that looks at a poem based on what it is not, versus what it is or posits it strives to be.

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