Sunday, March 22, 2009

Ron (1)

Ron Klassnik sent me this link to his review of Michael Schiavo's review of Matthew Dickman's poems. I think Ron is largely right. I read Schiavo's review and it seemed so strangely moralistic. There is a not-very-interesting article today in the New York Times about the connection between radical evil and the literary imagination. I mean, Lolita, etc!... However, I disagree with Ron's criticism of Brenda Hillman. If she wants to protest against the Iraq war, why not? In other words, Ron becomes strangely moralistic toward the end there.

I also want to say that I read this book (unlike Mr K), and I didn't find it as terrible as Schiavo does. I just thought it was an all around average book in the Tony Hoaglund average-ist school of writing, loosely influenced by American poets who depoliticized Neruda once upon a time. So it makes sense that it was published by Copper Canyon, which is that kind of press. And it makes sense that it was picked by Hoaglund for some kind of contest, because it's the kind of poetry that does well what Hoaglund does, thus totally un-threatening to him. But I've read far worse books and far better books (even as recently as yesterday).

And as far the twins getting awards and such: There are tons of awards given out and they're seldom given to poets that I find interesting. Awards tend to go to unthreatening, mildly original writers. That's what they are for.

Here's the note I got from Ron:

Michael Schiavo has written a very passionate and very negative review of Matthew Dickman and his poetry.

For the past several days I've been thinking about Schiavo's review and have just posted a response to it on HTMLGIANT

Here are some of the things in this post (i guess you could call it "a review of a review")

--the need for negative reviews and calling bullshit
--"America" (the word and the country, what we owe and don't owe)
--alternatives (if we criticize do we need to propose alternatives?)
--Walt Whitman: (among other things) liar, monster, con-man
--poetry that makes the world more "humane" and "honest"
--The War in Iraq

If you're interested then please check it out here,
and, of course, any feedback is appreciated,.....



Blogger Kent Johnson said...

Speaking of "negative reviews," a new magazine called Mayday, which launches May 1, will carry a commentary by me on Negative Reviews: why the poetry world has so few of them, why we need more of them, and what we might do to encourage their production. The issue will also carry a number of brief replies (500-650 words) to the piece. Those who have so far agreed to respond include Don Share, Steve Burt, Ange Mlinko, Bob Archambeau, Daisy Fried, Michael Theune, John Latta, Michael Robbins, Noah Eli Gordon, Mark Wallace, Maureen McLane, Joe Amato, Dale Smith, Rebecca Porte, Bill Freind, David Lau, and John Bradley. A few more will be added.

It promises to be an interesting and varied discussion.


9:41 AM  
Blogger Matt said...

Hoagland, not Hoaglund.

12:44 PM  
Blogger Johannes said...

Ah, my mom's maiden name is Haglund. And actually I think my spelling is the genuine/untranslated one.

Though it would probably be Hoglund with two dots over the o.

12:55 PM  
Blogger Amish Trivedi said...

Kent- I'm kind of with you on this: Everyone is so afraid of not getting ahead career-wise that they're afraid to offend anyone with a negative review! I also think to an extent that part of the problem (pure speculation, admittedly) is that while there may be more publishers, I get the sense that it might well be harder to get a book published (maybe I'm a biased, punk kid, though). Plus we're all in incredible touch- who would ever write a bad review about someone they knew? It's not like Lowell and Berryman- Lowell having published a review that Berryman felt was a betrayal.

I don't know: I feel like if you hate something, say you hate it but say WHY you hate it. Maybe people don't want to take the time to write reviews of things they don't like? Maybe people simply stop reading and never contemplate writing the review.

Late night thoughts, Kent- I'm sure your essay will blow these nutty ideas away.

9:35 PM  
Blogger Kent Johnson said...

Thanks, Amish. I doubt my essay will decisively blow any nutty ideas away, as you put it: a number of the respondents will likely consider my own proposals "nutty"! But the whole forum will be quite rich and provoke further discussion down the road, I think. It's a topical issue, for sure.

Johannes Goransson, Annie Finch, Josua Marie Wilkinson, and Scott Esposito of the Quarterly Review have also agreed to add their thoughts.

Stay tuned!


7:40 AM  

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