07 December 2007

William Logan, the most hated man in American poetry, has his latest verse chronicle up at The New Criterion. A few amusing tidbits:

On Robert Pinsky's Gulf Music,
(A lot of commas go missing in this book—charitable gifts of punctuation should be sent directly to the publisher.)
In a section on Charles Wright,
America is a forgiving country, and old geezers can write old-geezer poetry for decades without suffering any punishment worse than having a sack of awards dumped on their heads.
And this bit on Robert Hass's recent collection is nice:
One poem offers a potted history of aerial bombardment in Vietnam; another, a sandbox account of the Korean War. The facts are numbing, but they’re too eager to become parables. Most people learned these things in tenth-grade textbooks, or from Al Gore.
These poems of genial guilt overwhelm poems far more intriguing: a Pinteresque conversation between lovers, a tale about watching a Thirties movie with the sound off, or the many lush poems about eating (though Hass can’t devour a piece of Parma ham without letting the reader know that somewhere a city is getting sacked—food all too often makes him think of mass murder). In these new poems, you get rueful intelligence by the bucketful, a welcome suspicion about the nature of language, and stunning renderings of the natural world, as well as a lot of scolding. I doubt I’ll like a book of American poetry better all year; but it’s a pity Hass has become a lyric poet with a conscience, because he can’t make the conscience shut up.