15 mar. 2004

Results of the test are in. Most readers wanted to be anonymous, and there were very few of them, so I'm not referring to any of them by name. I'll summarize the results.

Poem (A) is by Allison Joseph, a formalist poet who is supposedly a professor of English and author of 5 books of poetry. I found it at The Formalist web sit. One reader said

"I have never read (A) before but sense the hand of that frequent blog poster of sonnets whose name I temporarily forget. The poem is of a badness beyond belief! Worst points: the pseudo-colloquial diction, and the evocation of quite another sort of piles....."

I would add that the use of "apostrophe s" to preserve the meter is particularly obnoxious. Another reader said simply "bleh."

Poem (B) is by a poet who prefers to remain anonymous:

"(B) I take to be satire....'I was on the faculty too!' is just right (esp. the
punctuation)--fabulous, Kochian, faux-wide-eyed--the phrase 'glamour photo' spoils it a little for me: too knowing...." Another said, "bad prose chopped into lines" (duh!). Another reader guessed Lewis Warsh, which was an incorrect guess.

(C) is by Kenward Elmslie. It's not a typical poem by him and didn't make a good impression on anyone. The same reader quoted above said:

"(C) I will presume is the one the Professor doesn't think is 'bad'--but I
don't like it either! What a bad student am I! How to justify my stance? It
seems to me a schematic account of an experience rather than an experience in language for its reader. (But if it were a part of a larger whole--he qualified cravenly--I might understand it better....)"

Another reader said "C) road... silent... junction x2... woods... green... hole... universe... freshness... strange... home... No surprises here. Best of the bunch tho that is saying little."

I don't think C is very accomlished either; I was trying to find the generic, completely unidentifiable non-quietudinous poem. (I think I found it.) It doesn't necessarily make mistakes, but it doesn't have a lot of sharpness to it either. It lacks the poet's usual zany sense of language.

"Choose better poems" was the conclusion of yet another reader. I'll have to try the experiment again, with poem I think of as good, but that are as obscure and unidentifiable as possible.