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Letter from Poetry Magazine

Letter to the Editor

Dear Editor,

Maybe because I had been so avidly reading Timothy Donnelly’s The Cloud Corporation—and then attended a reading during which Donnelly delivered exactly the sort of contained glee I had found in the collection—I was vexed by David Orr’s weary-sounding review [“Public Poetry,” April 2011]. The less successful passages Orr cites in support of the phrase “exquisite, cheerless noodling” are among the few places in the collection that I myself found not especially interesting or moving. But they seem quite anomalous among the 152 pages of the book. And several of Orr’s doubting characterizations are dubious. I would not call Donnelly’s syntax Jamesian, nor would I call his style “haute academic,” though it is challenging. I don’t understand why Donnelly’s political protests and griefs are any less trenchant or more practically impotent than other poets’. But it’s the several very general, blasé, and dismissive parts of the review that I think are unfair: “a general distaste for finance and/or capitalism”; “the epitome of Our Moment”; “the sort of writing [the collection] represents”; “certain audiences.” This may be a very trendy book and have garnered trendy readers and unusually happy reviews. But in my experience of it, it’s estimably intense, conscientious, cleverly made, and often thrillingly beautiful. I’m baffled by Orr’s faint praise.

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This poem originally appeared in the June 2011 issue of Poetry magazine

Letter from Poetry Magazine

Letter to the Editor

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