Mike Snider's Formal Blog at the Sonnetarium :
poems, mostly metrical, and rants and raves on poets, poetry, and the po-biz
Updated: 6/26/08; 9:09:26 PM.



AIM: poemando




Click to see the XML version of this web page.

Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.


Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Thanks to the New Poetry list, I've known for a few weeks that the April issue of Poetry had essays by Dana Gioia and August Kleinzahler on Garrison Keillor's Good Poetry. I wanted to read the essays—I own and like the book; I've admired Dana Gioia's poetry and criticism for a long time; though I don't kow Kleinzahler's poetry at all, I remembered being affected (but not how) while reading his week's journal at Slate—but since I didn't renew my Poetry subscription 3 years ago, and the closest store that carries it is 50 miles north of my bachelor pad by the Navy base, I was resigned to missing them.

Poetry Daily to the rescue. Go read them, Gioia here and Kleinzahler here.

Both men came to the book with considerable skepticism, but Gioia, at least, appears to have actually read it and been surprised and pleased by what he found. He recognizes Keillor's introduction for the spiky and confrontational thing it is, and correctly recognizes that the book's organization by theme signals that this is not a teaching anthology, but rather an anthology of poems which people might actually turn to for insight, a good story, amusement, or, anathema!, comfort.

Kleinzahler, on the other hand, appears to be so violently affronted by Keillor's mere existence that he couldn't bring himself to do much more than glance at the table of contents. He doesn't comment on the selections except to say that he has "little doubt that a Keillor staffer picks the poems for the show, a superannuated former M.F.A. from the Iowa Workshop would be my guess, one familiar with Keillor's appalling taste, sentimentality, and the constraints of format" and that the book "isn't as bad as one might think had one been listening now and then to Keillor's morning segment over the years." He sneers "Its principal virtue is that one doesn't have to endure Keillor's poetry voice." Here's his summary of Keillor on the constraints imposed by reading poems on the radio:

"So I'll be feeding you mostly shit," is what Garrison could well go on to say. No Antonin Artaud with the flapjacks, please.

Kleinzahler insists that "art's exclusive function is to entertain, not to improve or nourish or console, simply entertain," and it's clear he doesn't believe there's much chance that anything could possibly improve, nourish, or console such vermin as human beings are. After reading his essay, I remember how his journal affected me, because the persona in both is a mean-spirited jerk and a poseur. He may be a wonderful uncle to somebody and he may be a fine poet, but I'll be damned if I want to find out after reading (and re-reading, in the journal) his vitriolic spew.

9:28:47 PM    comment: use html tags for formatting []  trackback []

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

2008 Michael Snider.

Click here to visit the Radio UserLand website.

April 2004
Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
        1 2 3
4 5 6 7 8 9 10
11 12 13 14 15 16 17
18 19 20 21 22 23 24
25 26 27 28 29 30  
Mar   May


Mar 2008
Feb 2008
Jan 2008
Dec 2007
Nov 2007
Oct 2007
Sep 2007
Aug 2007
Jul 2007
Jun 2007 (empty)
May 2007
Apr 2007
Mar 2007
Feb 2007
Jan 2007 (empty)
Dec 2006 (empty)
Nov 2006 (empty)
Oct 2006
Sep 2006 (empty)
Aug 2006
Jul 2006
Jun 2006
May 2006
Apr 2006
Mar 2006
Feb 2006
Jan 2006
Dec 2005
Nov 2005
Oct 2005
Sep 2005
Aug 2005
Jul 2005
Jun 2005
May 2005
Apr 2005
Mar 2005
Feb 2005
Jan 2005
Dec 2004
Nov 2004
Oct 2004
Sep 2004
Aug 2004
Jul 2004
Jun 2004
May 2004
Apr 2004
Mar 2004
Feb 2004
Jan 2004
Dec 2003
Nov 2003
Oct 2003
Sep 2003
Aug 2003
Jul 2003
Jun 2003
May 2003
Apr 2003
Mar 2003
Feb 2003
Jan 2003
Dec 2002
Nov 2002
Oct 2002
Sep 2002