Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Six poets make the top 15 list!

Anis Shivani of the Huffington Post slaps the sh!t out of the literary establishment with his list of the 15 most overrated writers in America.

Oooh! I love it when media pundits slam on writers who aren't me! (especially when the writers being dissed get eviscerated with witty insults.) More! Do more!

(He's wrong about Junot Diaz, though. The man's cool; he teaches at MIT! How cool is that? Oh, and I like Billy Collins, too, so sue me.)

Amazingly, of his list of fourteen* "most over-rated" writers, six are poets. Wow, he thinks Americans rate poetry that highly?? Really? Almost half** of the "most overrated" writers are poets?

Here's his poets, and a quote from his hatchet job each one:

  • John Ashbery (Self-Portrait in a Broken Mirror): "More responsible than anyone else for turning late twentieth-century American poetry into a hermetic, self-enclosed, utterly private affair"
  • Mary Oliver (Porcupines and Toads and Opossums and Turtles): "Publishes a book a year with interchangeable contents--how she has put on the brakes on her own evolution is the real wonder. Poems are free of striking images, ideas, or form."
  • Sharon Olds (Tampons and Lactation): "Childbirth, her father's penis, her son's cock, and her daughter's vagina are repeated obsessions she can always count on in a pinch. Has given confessionalism such a bad name it can't possibly recover."
  • Jorie Graham (The Dream of the Unified Field): "With her last few books, this philosopher of language has sought to become more and more unreadable."
  • Louise Gluck (Odysseus and Ostracization): "She is perhaps our greatest example of mediocrity ascending to the very top."
  • Billy Collins (Angels on Pins and Walking Across the Atlantic): "His poems have lately become mostly about writing poems--in his pajamas, with a cup of coffee in hand."

Lots of responses, on the webs and in the blogosphere, most of which (paraphrasing here) say he's a dick. Maybe the most succinct summary comes from Charles Jensen, who titles his post "everyone's a critic, but you're a bad one."


*(he lists a book reviewer who likes the preceeding authors as his final entry)

**42.9%, really. 40%, if you count the reviewer he saved for last.


Anonymous said...

The irony in these types of critiques/rants by critics always amuse me. While (yawn) slamming the MFA graduates with the same old tired lines 'how can you be a master of english?'etc, he, in the very next sentence rattles off who is of value and who is not as though his opinion is fact. Sigh -and he's saying others are cliche and uncreative .....

mary Turzillo said...

Hey, attack who you will, but leave my Billy Collins alone! He's so fresh -- in the rude sense of the word. He may be the only poet I read not because he's profound, but solely for the sheer fun of it.


The poet doesn't invent. He listens. ~Jean Cocteau