Tuesday, August 12, 2008


It was also funny to see Ron wear his humanist heart on his sleeve when he said that Minnis's book did not hold up to several readings. Isn't that the Helen Vendler criteria for good poetry?


Blogger Kasey Mohammad said...

Without getting into the merits of the specific work (or critics) in question, for whom is that not a good criterion?

9:23 AM  
Blogger Paul Gibbons said...

So would poetry without such a criterion be referred to as disposable, or unreusable poetry? As in, read once only = bad poetry? Hmmm . . . and how does one articulate the criteria for poetry that "holds up" to several readings? Intricacy, perhaps? Though the intricacy of a poem is always there, for there is even intricacy in a STOP sign, and one can explicate it so. What other elements are there to "hold[ing] up to several readings"?

10:36 AM  
Blogger Max said...

I think it has to do with a body of work remaining relevant to you. If it loses most or all of its relevance after one reading, then perhaps this indicates that there was shimmer but no spark. We can sit around and argue about whether spark is even necessary, whether shimmer can/should be an end in itself (personally, I don't really care either way), but to argue that this set of values is invalid is kind of obnoxious. The reason being that it is a common -- almost universal -- value system. What doesn't stand up to repetition bores us. What bores us gets left behind. Perhaps one might resist this urge in poetry (because one can intellectualize the value of a "disposable object" for example), but think about food, or music, or movies, or anything else that we "consume" (literally or figuratively).

Whether something "holds up to several readings" is going to be entirely subjective in nature. I don't see why anyone would have to provide an objective measure in order for this to be a valid reaction.

12:28 PM  

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