frost on the edge


No one resembles a poet so much as another poet, which is a mixed blessing for American poetry. On the one hand, this kinship helps explain why writers with divergent sensibilities often read one another’s work with surprising compassion and skill; on the other, it also explains why certain factions in the poetry world loathe each other nearly as much as “Star Wars” fanatics despise people who have a working knowledge of Klingon. Sometimes this acrimony stems from a genuine aesthetic disagreement that is serious and important and (as one might say in Poetryland) worthy of a Panel Discussion, Followed by a Short Reception. Other times, though, it’s just a matter of writers carping at each other because they realize that if they didn’t, people would have a hard time telling them apart.

The longest-running feud is probably the low-intensity border war between so-called experimental poets and their “mainstream” brethren. Since the distinctions can be hard to parse (to most people, saying “mainstream poetry” is like saying “mainstream tapestry-weaving”), it’s helpful to turn to the experts.

more from the NY Times Book Review here.