16 jul. 2004

Does the bad restaurant know its food is bad? At some level,
yes. At least the wait-staff has to know it.

The type of bad poet I most resent is the type who thinks of
themself as deeply serious and committed to the art, who
doesn't have a clue that they are simply amateurish. Not only
that, but they also think they are critics who can distinguish the
good from the bad, and lecture to the rest of us, or teachers
who can give us lessons on how to write better. Their names might
be Joan Houlihan, Timothy Steele, or William Logan.
(Of course someone like Logan is usually
right in his criticism: it's all negative! So, since 95 percent
of poetry is bad anyway, he is going to be right 95 percent of the
time. A knack for finding the most obvious flaws in something comes
rather cheap. Franz Wright? It's self-indulgent, part of the Oprah
culture of self-help. What narcissism means to me? It's narcissistic.
Frieda Hughes: lame imitation of her famous poet parents.
I could do that kind of criticism without even reading the books.)

For me, one type of of amateur poet is the one who attempts to write what
sounds like "poetry." The sort of "scintillant incandescence" school.

Another type might be purveyor of mildly witty "light verse" who thinks
of himself is a deeply serious poet.