A Conversation with William Logan

Piotr Florczyk in the Los Angeles Review of Books:

PIOTR FLORCZYK: Forgive me for opening with a grim statement, but you are, as a poet-critic, a member of a dying breed, not the least because, as you remind us, “America is suspicious of the man who wears more than one hat.” What’s more, for reasons we’re about to get into, American poets shy away from commenting on the work of their fellow poets, even though doing so would allow them additional insight into their own poetry. What’s the relationship between your poetry and your critical work?

WILLIAM LOGAN: I doubt critics of a critical temper are dying out, but grumpy critics rarely remain grumpy very long. John Simon, whose temperament even I sometimes found captious, was still growling into his 90s. A number of critics of my generation and the generation after came out roaring in their 20s but stopped writing criticism within a decade. Critics who fail to go along to get along are punished, supposedly. It may not be entirely untrue — I’ve been told twice that I was on track to win some small award, which went sideways when one of the judges raged about my criticism. If that’s the punishment the world metes out, it’s a revenge small and pathetic — and hilarious.

To your question, though. If there’s some relation between my poetry and my criticism, other than a very occasional grimness or stringency of tone, I have no idea what.

More here.