Whenever a book attracts as much attention as Can Poetry Matter?, there are bound to be distortions. Once the public picks up on a particular set of ideas, it naturally turns them to its own end. I would be naive to complain about the predictable consequences of notoriety. One may dislike being misrepresented, but as Oscar Wilde observed, “There is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.” All artists are vain—even poet-critics. I do, however, insist that my views are better represented by what I have published in books and essays than by what a reviewer, columnist, or feature writer claims I believe. I am astonished by some of the things people mistakenly assume I have said—like “Poetry is now a dead art,” “Free verse is a bankrupt technique,” “No one reads contemporary poetry,” or “All Creative Writing Programs should be shut down.” I admit that last dictum is tempting, but I have always suggested reforming these programs, not destroying them. I suspect many critics project their own fears and desires into their image of me. It is easier to declare me a demon than address the points I raise.
Wednesday, February 24, 2016
… Paradigms Lost: Interview with Gloria Brame – Dana Gioia. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)