12 may. 2005

I commented like this over at Emily's blog:

"How a post on my own reluctance to criticize blogger poets became a post on 'the benefits of attacking other poets,' I don't know! I was not even being 'prescriptive,' but simply describing my own practice and the reasons behind it. I think there are two sorts of envy/competetiveness: against poets who are better, we might feel real envy. "I wish I could write like that." The envy of the success of mediocrity is more pernicious perhaps. To see mediocrity rewarded is deeply troubling, causes me an almost physical pain. I envy those who can stand by with equanimity.

To say we are not always fully conscious of our own motives is true enough. I am fully conscious, however, of this mixture of competitiveness and envy. It is something I think about a lot, in fact. To say negative criticism = competitiveness seems deeply reductive."

You can also read comments there by Nick, David, Emily, Julie, Jess, and Robert, among others.

Are there "benefits in attacking other poets"? Put so starkly, it would seem not. However, to rule out negative criticism is to rule out criticism itself. Such a move might also be the result of motives not wholly conscious. Who benefits from the absence of open, honest discussion?

5 comentarios:

Nick Piombino dijo...

Dear Jonathan,

I've already apologized, and I apologize again for any misunderstanding. As I said on Emily's blog, I was speaking about unconscious compeitiveness, and was only using this opportunity to express my opinion about poet sensitivity.
Here are your words on the subject I was responding to:
" I think there is a place and a function for negative or "mixed" reviewing. I get impatient with a lack of truth telling". I am surely in the minority in the opinion I hold about this. This opinion arose from experiences on the Buffalo poetics list, where "negative reviewing" got way out of hand, and poets were making plans to meet and have fistfights.

Jonathan dijo...


Well yes. The Buffalo Poetics list is quite insane, I agree. Those poets sniping at each other there would be well advised to follow some version of the "blogger's code." I've been saying for some time that the list has outlived its utility. There is really no need for apologies. I was just trying to clarify my position.

Emily Lloyd dijo...

JM, please check my comments--I agree with you on all of these. And it was certainly more the comments to your initial post, and the comments at Tim Yu's, that I was responding to (note that everything I quoted in my post was from comments). And, as we all know, comments to one's blog might take off from the original place and go anywhere. I think the comments to yours went somewhere you didn't intend when you originally posted.

Nick Piombino dijo...

My point was not to insult the poetics list, where I have agreed to be one of the editors and we are hard at work trying to make it an appealing place for writers to post their ideas, opinions and announcements. I was using an example of something that took place a long time ago. I would also like to clarify my point. When I spoke about "negative reviewing" I had in mind attacking reviews, scathing reviews and the like, not criticism that aims to encourage a poet to look more closely at their work and practices. Taste, of course, is highly subjective, and it is valuable indeed to share ones tastes and ideas about other people's poetry; I should have been clearer- I was talking about reviews whose sole purpose is to embarass. I personally, don't feel the need for someone to save me from mediocre poetry, as if they could! I feel fully capable of making these judgements for myself. I just go and sell, trade, or give away the books. And more than occasionally I decide that maybe the poetry wasn't so mediocre after all. Same for music. I'm sure you would get a good laugh out of watching me listen rapturously to lots of George Benson on the subway of late!

Jonathan dijo...


I'm glad to know you're doing something positive for the poetics list, Nick. I think it is in sore need of your wisdom. I also agree a review should not have embarrassment and humiliation as its main goal.

And Emily--yes, I believe you and I also agree. A comment is very much embedded in its context and can take on other implications when quoted elsewhere. I loved your "kick my ass" post.