Wednesday, March 29, 2006


Surfing around blogs tonight, I found this passage:

I once was impetus for an encyclical from the Bemsha See pontificating that criticism amongst bloggers was in his opinion taboo because god knows there’s bigger fish to fry elsewhere but as I think on it now I believe that’s ill-advised and in fact blogs won’t be more than sales and marketing devices until some real critical back and forth begins on one another's poems and not just their diarrhea of poetics [and to fess up even more, the impetus was a tirade on a poem by Paul Guest in Slate which I believed was quite, well, not good, but later deleted said criticism because of aforementioned blogger guilt]).

I'm really kind of disappointed said tirade was deleted. I'm a big boy. I can take it. It might have been instructive. It might have been redonkulous (to quote my beloved Cornshake).

But now we'll never know.


Greg said...


I'm sure it was ridonkulous. And unfortunately the complete rant has gone where all deletions go. But I do have this email snippet left that tried to be less rant and more reasoned. For what it's worth:

"As for actual criticism rather than rant, I'm not sure I'm up to it right now, but I think the poem's beginning "How I wanted" is
preciously poetical. And it interferes with the next 10 lines. I suppose there's something being communicated there. About armor and
spears. But the metaphors (the armored hides, shallow tanks, dull
brown orbits, pen-shaped snouts): too many adjectives and too dull (
the adjectives just don't help). And it's seems so out of place to the story. Intellectually, I get it. I think. But I don't think it works.

And especially the gar. As for the ending, I must be missing something. Else, the poem has declined to mere sentiment.

I guess overall, the words I used in the rant are as good as any to
sum up my attitude towards this poem: "incredibly inept syntax with
dull metaphors or sentimental and inane confidences."

But I always recognize the fact I might be missing something.

Except I don't think so."

I haven't re-read the poem, so I can't say if I had missed something. But I hope this fills in the mystery of the missing rant.

But I did learn never to blog after ales on lees.


Paul said...

Now that's more like it, my man. Thanks for posting this. I'll give it a good read.

Josh_Hanson said...

My journal never gets comments from outside the LJ world excepting one or two regulars.

But I got a regular barrage of negative feedback by even intimating that blogs could be used as a space to constructively talk about other's poems rather than just as a big PR machine.

The idea, I'm saying, was roundly poo pooed.

And, yes, in that climate, one feels very guilty about expressing a negative opinion of a poem by a fellow blogger. Strange, that.

Glad to see the conversation continued.

Paul said...

Josh, I just realized I don't stop by your LJ nearly enough with the express intent of defecating on your ideas. I'm going to remedy that. ;)

No, seriously, I think there is, or can be, a place for what you're talking about, what I was getting after.

Part of the problem is the uncertainty of what people want or expect in posting their own work; I certainly don't expect feedback, praise, critcism, whatever. For me, it's a workspace.

Without knowing, most people pass on.

It certainly wouldn't bother me; Greg's post didn't. I write to please myself. If I didn't please Greg, that's cool. It doesn't hurt my feelings.

There's no doubt that blogspace can be used as a forum for criticism, most usefully and appropriately for published work.

My poem ("Water") is published, and thus, fair game.

A. D. said...

hmm . . . i recognize that e-mail snippet.

Greg said...

I completely agree with Josh. If it's on a blog, then it's in the public arena open for comment. That's the nature of blogs after all. Otherwise, one would keep their work in a private journal, online or otherwise. But there's a a queasy feeling out there about such blog-crit. Of course, my rant on Mr. Guest's poem was not such a comment. It was a half-drunk roar, and so, feeling somewhat abashed, I chose to delte it. On the other hand, the email snippet was somewhat more rational, this from someone admittedly semi-rational. And yes, AD, I thought you may have recognized that snippet. Thank gmail for email searches.

Paul said...

Man, I'm increasingly sorry I missed a half-drunk roar. Damn! Thanks, Greg, for being a good sport about this. It's a valuable discussion, I think.

Steven D. Schroeder said...

I, too, think this is a valuable discussion. One of the criticisms of po-blogs that I find more valid is that they tend too much toward the nice and non-confrontational (a few mavericks aside). I think there's a good middle ground where you can be honest and critical without being a dick.

Josh_Hanson said...

I heartily subscribe to Steven's call for Dickless Criticism.

A. D. said...

well, i think some have trouble handling criticism, dickless or otherwise. i'm completely in agreement with the work on blogs being fair game, but i feel that most are going to be hesitant to criticize some one's work in the whole blog scene, because the "here is my poem, please discuss" isn't implicit—and feelings and virtual friendships might be shaken up.

of course, if one really didn't want comments he/she could just turn them off. blogworld seems to be more about mutual support and diplomacy or about critical discussion outside one's own work.

i don't remember greg's rant being all that scathing, so you might have been disappointed. i actually had e-mailed him to see if i could draw out and mull over some of the scathe.

i too welcome the scathe.

Josh_Hanson said...

For the record, I could never imagine commenting on someone's blog that the poem they posted was sub-par. I may or may not offer some thoughts, though. I'd be more likely to say somehting about the poem in my own space.

Really, I'm just talking about taking the work of your contemporaries seriously enough to see if it holds up to examination, rather that saying, "Hey, so-and-so has a poem up here." (Which I do all the time, by the way.)

It seems to me that any writer craves being read, and being read means a reader interogating a text. The sense I get from most blog-talk is that we're all lazy readers of eachother's work.

I may be wrong.