I realize this is playing into your hands, but in the cause of something more important than mere controversy, and in the interest of a better Poetry, I need to express some concern. Over the past several months, I’ve begun to wonder just how you perceive the role of a poetry reviewer. I’ve noticed a tendency toward (no, a fad for) negative reviews, each just a little wittier, a little nastier than the month before, culminating in your June issue with reviews that seem written with no other purpose than to prove the cleverness of the writer. In their own spirit, I need to say that they seem like the work of cheeky young narcissists who elect negativity at the expense of informed analysis, substituting shallowness for depth, attitude for understanding. It seems odd to spend the first half of your journal promoting the work of poets you admire and the other half tearing down the work of poets who deserve, at the very least, respectful attention to what they are trying to accomplish. A thoughtful review brings a vision larger than the self to the task of assessment. Harriet Monroe looked to Pound for just such assessment, andcurmudgeonly as he could bePound was also a generous and enthusiastic sponsor of work he appreciated.
Port Townsend, Washington