Peter Campion responds:

While I was reading it, I wanted to argue back with the first letter printed above. I certainly never criticized the use of humor in poetry, which the correspondent claims in his third, ungrammatical sentence. As he himself states, I even had "a certain amount of fun" writing my own piece.

I also wanted to make light of the letter-writer's flatfooted phrasing, his description of great poets as "the whole gamut of dead white guys," his image of Wallace Stevens "always chuckling and slapping his knee." Then I was going to throw in a really good barb, something about understanding why he argued for the shortness of Lux's books.

But imagine my shock when I came to the thundering final sentence, followed by the heraldic signature. Here was the man whose detective stories I've enjoyed through so many re-readings! Yes, I thought, I am small. And I should acknowledge just how large Stephen Dobyns is!

Chad Parmenter claims that my piece "draws on the mistaken assumption that difficult language equals subtle meaning." It never does. He writes that Thomas Lux's poems show true "attention to rhythm and music." He never shows how.
Originally Published: October 30th, 2005

Peter Campion received his BA from Dartmouth College and his MA from Boston University. His collections of poetry include Other People (2005), The Lions: Poems (2009), which won the Levis Reading Prize, and El Dorado (2013). He has also written monographs and catalog essays for the painters Joseph McNamara, Terry...

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