Monday, December 04, 2006

Adding Insult to Injury!

In Response to a Letter of Complaint to the Editors of Poetry That it Publishes Too Much Prose:

"In fact, I think a strong case can be made that the more respect you have for poetry, the less of it you will find adequate to your taste and needs. There is a limit to this logic, of course, or else Plato would be the patron saint of the art. But still, an overdeveloped appetite for poetry is no guarantee of taste or even of love, and institutionalized efforts at actually encouraging the over-consumption of poetry always seem a bit freakish, ill-conceived, and peculiarly American, like those mythic truck stops where anyone who can eat his own weight in rump roast doesn't have to pay for it. ...

Anyone involved with the institutions of poetry would do well to remember this. With all the clamor in this country about the audience for poetry, a veritable barnyard of noise into which I myself have been known to bray, we shouldn't lose sight of one of poetry's chief strengths: how little of it there is. I don't mean how little there is in the culture, but how little there is at any one time that is truly excellent. "

The point I want to make here has to do with the prose in these [back] issues [of Poetry - 1913 & 1915], which in both cases remains surprisingly fresh, readable, even relevant. ...This tendency is borne out by other back issues of Poetry (issues old enough to allow for some perspective, I mean). The poetry is pretty much a steady backdrop of competence for the occasional and (now) unmistakable masterpieces. The prose is surprisingly consistent in its quality and appeal.

----------------------------------------------------------The Editors of Poetry

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