The Measuring Muse

Peter Filkins at Salmagundi:

The role of poet-critics is a special one in any literature. Practitioners of the art, they also reveal its underpinnings, an activity that involves more than a mere thumbs-up-or-down review. Instead, by shaping whom and how we read, their influence can be considerable. Randall Jarrell famously dissected poets in regards to their best, or most often, worst tendencies. T.S. Eliot, on the other hand, took the high road, gazing calmly over the centuries while situating poets amid a cultural landscape over which he sought to reign. Usually, however, the stakes are not that high, for most often the role of the poet-critic is neither to delineate nor disseminate, but rather to illuminate. In such manner the main subject of the poet-critic, versus that of the literary critic or reviewer, is poetry itself. Reviewers tell us what a book of poems is “about”; the poet-critic reminds us of what poetry is and can be.

more here.