Dear Editor,

I agree with Averill Curdy that the lack of young women critics doesn't result from "gendered" responses to artwork, but from social pressures. Curdy makes the central point of her essay when she claims that the problem is generational. It's the most disturbing point. For isn't this the first generation to grow up after Feminism? Shouldn't this generation welcome women who aren't afraid to argue, and men who aren't afraid of strong-minded women?

Curdy doesn't explain what's so different these days, except to imply that careers have greater importance. Here's my take on what she leaves out. The "Poetry World" has become bigger and more diverse. Poems also show a higher level of basic competence, if not excellence. This makes it easier for reviewers and editors to give up on aesthetic judgment. Each falls back on his or her idea of "community." However genuine these concepts may be, they don't necessarily help writers, as Curdy shows; they also tend to foster the old expectation that women should please, accommodate, and agree.

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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