"[P]oetry makes nothing happen: it survives, / [...] a way of happening, a mouth." -W. H. Auden

Sunday, August 8, 2010

On William Logan's Review of Franz Wright and Natasha Trethewey

Have a look at the comment I recently posted on a review of books by Franz Wright and Natasha Trethewey, among others, by William Logan from a few years ago, in which I consider Logan's "vague kind of moralistic outrage": http://www.newcriterion.com/articles.cfm/God-s-chatter-2545


  1. Nice to see someone say a few sane words about that very bizarre lunatic, Logan. He never had a word to say about me until Knopf published one of my books when I was 47. Then it was open season. It's as if he waits for them to appear for the sheer joy of hating them--actually, of hating anyone who gets any attention. You pick up on what no one ever mentions: the brutally personal nature of his so-called criticism. I have never seen anything like it, and I have never seen anything like the sheeplike docility with which people accept what you right point out to be unethical behavior. On top of that, he has a whole following of younger people who will occasionally admit to simply enjoying the sheer nastiness of what he writes, even when they have never read the poet in question. Logan claims to love T.S. Eliot. Do you picture Eliot wasting his time writing about poets he hates--he consistently employed literary criticism in one of its most useful forms, as a way to guide readers to and help illuminate poets he LOVED. Consider BEING Wm Logan briefly, and you begin to actually pity him. Godknows the psychological roots of such bullshit. And please God always let me follow Eliot's radiant example. Franz Wright

  2. @Franz: Yes, he seems to have a particular vendetta against certain poets, including yourself, of course. Poised crouching, waiting for the next book to come out... I don't mind negative criticism per se -- though I do agree with you that one should focus on illuminating the poets one LOVES -- but when Logan's "criticism" is entirely insubstantial and illogical, as it too often is, it's infuriating and -- yes -- even unethical. In the instance in question, I was also shocked and appalled at his literally ridiculous statements about Natasha Trethewey.

  3. I agree w Logan
    DAVE'S MANIFESTO (written and revised (many times) beginning 2014)
    I find much poetry today is really prose- people cut lines off a la William Carlos Williams or Ezra Pound- with no sense of rhythm- just try running lines of much modern poetry together and see if it makes any difference- it doesn't. It might as well be prose.
    There’s too little music and our verse is academic, or as I say it- acadaeemic (as in anemic) Much lacks passion- is effete, demure and wan- everybody seems to be channeling Elizabeth Bishop without her wit.
    It’s as if folx decided they did not want to be heroic or Miltonic or Shakespearean or Keatsian any more and would only use normal speechifying- but then having nothing to say and saying it in a mild way dressed up with a bit of cuteness- is really sad.
    If you are going to chop lines off willy nilly, trying to follow the pauses of natural speech- I hope you have something to say! Williams made a point out of describing a wheelbarrow or a plum- since he was the first- this was refreshing- THEN! Then it was fresh and surprising. Pound also said nothing in an interesting way. Williams very little- but in an interesting way.

    Look at poems in the New Yorker magazine, Poetry Mag or the American Poetry Review?- no passion-as I say it “ acadeem ic “ Most seems slicked over with a veneer of superficiality. To me the word that describes it is “smug”. There is no magic- nothing magical. I like poetry that is suprising- there seems to be no surprise in poetry these days. Listen to the 3rd movement of the Schumann Piano Concerto for surprise.
    A character in Mcnurtry’s “Lonesome Dove” would say it’s got no “sand”, no “grit.” And I’m not just talking about the female writers.
    Do we want “normal” poetry? Poetry “as usual”? I have never thought of that as poetry?
    Poetry should make your hair stand on end. Read Rimbaud’s “Bateau Ivre” or the sainted Emily? Our poetry lacks electricity…charge- it’s sly. I like “charged” poetry.
    I say no.
    These days it is good that poetry is accessible to so many. But that has led to everybody and his/her cousin is a poet.

    1. the rest of this available from the author- Poem a day? Writers Almanac? a deplorable poetry industry- leave it to amurikanbs to makie a busines out of poetry-writing seminar stuff dave eberhardt- baltimore poet and activist