A Few Things …

April 16, 2009

• a podcast of me talking about John Ashbery, with host Curtis Fox

• an upcoming reading/panel discussion next Thursday the 23rd at 7pm with Brenda Hillman and Graham Foust in Walnut Creek

• and thanks everyone, the ankle surgery went fine, I’m just recuperating and will be up and about shortly!

So Betsy at Pilot Books has some copies of For You in Full Bloom, the chapbook I wrote of poems based on paintings by Chris Uphues, available for sale. It was a really limited run, and we sold most of the books at AWP this year, so we weren’t sure if we’d have enough to sell on the web. But apparently there are a few copies left, so if anyone is interested email — editors [at] pilotpoetry [dot] com — we might do another run later in the year for some events in NY and San Francisco, stay tuned! Betsy and her partner Meghan Dewar did an absolutely unbelievable job with the book, it’s bound with metal bolts. Here is one of the poems, along with one of Chris’s paintings.

Also, I just got word from Luxbooks that the German graphic novel edition of The Pajamaist (Der Pyjamaist, see the cover in a post below) is off to the printer! I saw the proofs, and the drawings by Martina Hoffman are unbelievable, and the translations by German poet Ron Winkler are terrific. When I actually have copies in hand I will post an announcement here. They have also expressed some interest in doing an English language version with the same drawings.

Show Your Work

April 12, 2009

Among the many responses to my essay on the Poetry Foundation website, one which disagrees in an extremely civil and articulate way is Craig Teicher’s, here on the National Book Critic Circle blog. He writes:

“In my view, a critic has three main jobs: foremost, to describe the work under consideration, meaning to figure out and clearly articulate what it’s intending to do and how.  Then, the critic has to make a value judgment, basically answering the question of whether or not the work succeeds in doing what it sets out to do, and whether or not there are other successes and failures to speak of.  This is important: criticism has to police the art form.  If readers—and critics are really just representative readers—don’t say whether they think poetry sucks or not, poems go slack.  Finally, the whole thing needs to be an interesting piece of writing, a work of literature in itself, albeit perhaps a minor one.”

My main purpose for the essay was to nudge critics more towards the first job he describes. I read a fair number of reviews, and I think vital aspect of reviewing is not emphasized nearly enough. My disagreement with what Craig writes above would be with his characterization of the importance of the second job of the critic. But I’m eager to talk it over more with him, and glad to be disagreed with in a thoughtful way.