Oh my, another Oedipal pissing contest in your pages from one of the young guns. I do not know what irks me more—the tone and anti-romantic posturing of attack artists like Michael Robbins, or your editorial insistence in mistaking this kind of criticism as provocative and necessary to the discussion of poetry. Or is it that you know the letters will come fast and furious—good for circulation—and like any bloody car wreck, people will pause to ogle. I trust you have not been studying Rupert Murdoch’s model for publication.
It’s clear Robbins has opinions, but that’s all they are. He never engages in earnest examination, never rises above his assertion of personality or his immature, holier-than-thou mockery. He is akin to so many of his ilk, ramping up his tone like an adolescent who believes himself hipper than he really is, yet lacking the dimension, manner, or life experience to step outside his own self-absorption.
Robbins might take lessons from Hass’s own critical writing, which is cogent, clear, intelligent, and balanced; or from Tony Hoagland’s essay, in the same issue, which strives toward reason and clarity without vitriol (proof that you editors have not completely lost your minds).