Letter from Poetry Magazine

Letter to the Editor

by Benjamin Glass

Dear Editor,

I very much enjoyed Adam Kirsch’s review of The Anthology of Rap [“How Ya Like Me Now,” February 2011], though I wonder if contemporary poetry really needs a dose of “spiritedness,” the kind that “fight[s] for status in a closed hierarchy.” Doesn’t poetry have this, and plenty of it? I’ve followed the onslaught of letters since Michael Robbins’s review of Robert Hass [“Are You Smeared with the Juice of Cherries?” September 2010] and wonder if this isn’t enough spiritedness to buffer a call for more? Robbins’s review is certainly spirited, and so is the attention it has gotten, which makes me wonder if poetry really needs more “artistic self-assertion.” Perhaps poetry also needs an equal dose of generosity amongst poets. I don’t mean that reviewers and letters should pander to texts, but that the energy of our attention might benefit from more munificence. Robbins’s review, and his poems in December, have kept him in almost every issue of Poetry since September, which certainly raises his status in a “closed hierarchy.” While this kind of spiritedness gets attention (remember Jason Guriel’s “Going Negative” [March 2009]?), is this kind the only way?  Kirsch intends his statement to apply to artistic creation (the rap song or the poem), but in Poetry, what’s getting more attention, poems or prose?

columbus, ohio

Originally Published: April 1, 2011

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This prose originally appeared in the April 2011 issue of Poetry magazine

April 2011

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