As it already is quite apparent

that mainstream/academic poetry has become an unthinking idol unto itself, I offer a review from CPRW, taken from Arts and Letters evincing that W.W. Norton et al would bugger themselves if they could, but they really shouldn't.

I haven't read this particularly stunning debut, so feel free to call me out if you find it to be brilliant and not utter tripe as the reviewer has claimed. However, the copious examples are enough to convince me (perhaps a weakness of mine, and not a strength of the reviewer).

Apparently, Mr. Bellows is a novelist of some renown. He said something in an interview I found to be the harbinger of doom for his future poetry (oddly, though a novelist, he has an MFA in poetry from Columbia U - perhaps another harbinger of doom?) - the interviewer asks him about the significance of excluding any reference to "brand names" - which Bellows takes to refer to the exclusion of pop culture references from his novel. I think he conflates pop culture with precision, namely. This shows forth in the above critique of his poetic effort. Why eliminate detail simply because you feel it impedes upon the purity of your art? Go fart! Put that in a jar and write about it. Sadly, specificity in our time has a lot to do with branding - that doesn't mean that if you include a brand of some sort in your work that you're advocating this - in fact, it would be the easier route to completely lambast consumer/labeling culture. But specificity (and precision - I admit to sort of conflating these two) is more about really seeing what you write - not a slavishness to the laws of logic, of reality. Subversion of either is fine and necessary, but the subversion, IMO, must serve a purpose. Bellows, in the reviewer's opinion, has chosen the austere farmhood of his youth, and pianos likened to obelisks. And while he seems to have actual "rural roots" and has played the piano, this doesn't change the fact that a piano is in no way like an obelisk and that the imparting of this image doesn't do so much good for the poem that we can forgive the leaving of logic.

You may be asking - why am I wasting my time on this wishy-washy stuff? Well, I was interested in it 1) because it was a poetry review in A&L (this shit hardly ever happens, y'all); 2) because I felt like preaching to the choir today and finally; 3) because more preaching ought to be done, less baby bum wiping (not to mention, I am bored at work). All this brings me to my quandry for the day (as I am attempting to have one every day): does the poetic establishment (god, that's an awful term, I feel like a damn hippie using it) really not know how to read poetry critically, or are they so swayed by nepotism as to ignore their critical lenses? Are they clinging to the misguided notion that in order to get real folks to read poetry (and do they want these "real folks" to read poetry?), it must be this wilty, prosaic bullshit, timeless and uninspired, like a cross between Frost and Mr. Magoo?

Actually, I think a cross between Frost and Mr. Magoo would be kind of cool. Scratch that. You know what I mean.


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