6 dic. 2008

Here are my basic principles:

(1) Be smart [Be brilliant]. It always helps to start out with that basic advantage of being smarter than the next person. What this really means, though, is to work smart. Be intelligent about the way in which you go about doing things. Think things out.

(2) Read more. Be the kind of person who has read more than the people in any given room. That's what the 9,000 book of poetry project is really about.

(3) Out work (everyone else).

(4) Stake out (your territory). Define a few areas in which you are a specialist. Within those areas, you want to have a fairly dense, saturated knowledge. You want to have read the Collected Poems, not the Selected Poems. If you are in Graduate school and reading only the works assigned, or only the reading list for an exam, you are probably not going to be very well read.

(5) got prose? Basically, as a critic you are a kind of writer. The writing is not a secondary activity ("writing up" the results of something else) but a primary one. Not every publishing academic writes all that well, so that is a way to set yourself off from the crowd right there. Assuming you have 1-4 covered, you've got to have prose.

3 comentarios:

Andrew Shields dijo...

Jonathan, I'm curious what inspired you to write these principles down today. What was the occasion for this post? (If it's not anything too personal, of course.)

I should add that I wholly agree with them!

Jonathan dijo...

I was at a party for a guest speaker last night. A grad student in my dept. said he had found my "scholarly writing" thread useful, so I want to resume it. I had scribbled down these principles in two word or three word phrases on little "Pick of the Week" itunes card I had picked up at a Starbucks last week. I got the card out of my wallet and produced the blog post. Voilà!

E. M. Selinger dijo...

Swung by via the Scroggins blog, and I'm glad I did. Inspiring, these, even for a jaded old hand like me. Well done!