Friday, May 28, 2004

Sagging this blog has been, but I think I can't be helping since I am, likely, the worst blogger ever.

I must admit, I liked the essay and the poem, or at least what I could make out of the latter. Pretty scathing stuff. His idea that poets support other writers, including, critics, but that some, or most, other writers fail to truly support poetry is true. I know many fiction writers, and a significant number of them know very little about poetry, and I've noticed very few who really try to know the genre. On the other hand, if a poet says "I've never read Michael Chabon" or "I've only read one story by Michael Cunningham" you're looked at as some kind of knuckle-dragging troglodyte who . . .

Okay, so, maybe I'm exaggerating, but Cummins has made me think of some issues within the community of writers, which, I must admit, I've not really thought about before.

Cummins also advocates a primacy of "heart over head" and condemns the "glorification of Self" which I think seems part of the anti-intellectual, anti-lyrical backlash against a lot of poetry written and published in America today. I'm a little unwilling to set foot on this particular battlefield. If it's true that overly-intellectual, emotionally-destitute lyrics of (self-glorifying) self-communion are bad and the detriment of our literature, and that they are being published, read and praised today, I am not worried. And I'm not sure that railing against bad writing solves anything. Poor writing, if that's what it is, will be known for what it is soon enough; to rail against it gives it more attention. What people should spend time on is reinintroducing neglected or overlooked poets (like John Wheelwright), so that good work can again come to light. Truly bad writers and truly bad writing is never immortalized, but truly good poets and truly good work can easily fall into obscurity.

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