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  #11  
Unread 02-13-2020, 06:52 PM
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Catherine Chandler Catherine Chandler is offline
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Yes. More power to her.



That doesn't mean I have to like her stuff (I never will). It is poetry for angst-ridden late teen/early adulthood crowd.


IMO she's the Danielle Steel of poetry. Inspirational poster fodder.



However, despite the fact that they both filled auditoriums (so did Frost) and that Millay had some really bad poems (don't we all?) I doubt if rupi could even come close to writing a sonnet as masterful and well-crafted as (for example) Millay's "Time does not bring relief, you all have lied." Does she even know what a sonnet is?


I don't agree with the comparison of the two.


I wish her a large, appreciative audience and lots and lots and lots of money.
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  #12  
Unread 02-13-2020, 07:12 PM
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Julie Steiner Julie Steiner is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by James Brancheau View Post
Why does being male enter into it, Julie? Are you seriously going down that road? Why is being a sellout, or novice, or just plain sucking suddenly noble because she's female? Popular and female. I forgot that it's important that she has many followers. Such a threat. We're poets for fuck sake. My lord. I can only hope you're better than that.
Yes, I am seriously going down that road. Because certain words and phrases (such as "locker room talk" and "grab") resonate far, far differently in a female ear than a male ear.

I've spent years writing poems about rape that are perfectly crafted failures. She is at least connecting with an audience. I can't sneer at that.

If the usual subjects of her work were less personally important to me, I don't doubt that I would have less patience for the oceans of mediocre poems that she produces. And I suspect that most of her work appears effortless because it really was effortless, and the fawning cult of personality that surrounds her and praises her every utterance is not exactly conducive to a higher standard of craft.

But every once in a while she produces diamonds in the rough, and I can't help but admire those.
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  #13  
Unread 02-13-2020, 08:27 PM
Andrew Szilvasy Andrew Szilvasy is offline
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Julie,

I ask this sincerely: could you offer up one of her diamonds in the rough?

We've brought her up before here and her ability to draw a crowd and connect with people is impressive. Those aren't necessarily the same as poetic talent or craft. Happy to be wrong.
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  #14  
Unread 02-13-2020, 09:52 PM
James Brancheau James Brancheau is offline
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It must resonate differently because I don't get how you see that in those five particular lines. A little inkblot, for me. Locker room talk, ok, ok, but grab a bite to eat?? I was supposed to pick up on that? Anyway, sure, like Andrew, I'm willing to be convinced of her talent. But if I remain wrong and still don't like her, it's certainly not because she's a woman.

*And I know that there are all kinds of things that I'm not necessarily tuned in to, Julie. Blind spots when it comes to gender I'm sure is one of them. But I don't see that particular poem (and other examples) as doing much.

Last edited by James Brancheau; 02-13-2020 at 10:17 PM.
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  #15  
Unread 02-14-2020, 01:40 AM
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Julie Steiner Julie Steiner is offline
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A year ago I blathered at length about a Rupi Kaur poem that I liked.

Several people here whose opinions I respect went to a quite a lot of time and trouble to explain why it left them underwhelmed.

Rather than have everyone recreate all that effort, and probably end up in the same place as last time--which is not a terrible place to be, I think, with people saying honestly that Rupi Kaur's work just didn't do the sorts of things that they want poetry to do--I'll just refer to the earlier thread.
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  #16  
Unread 02-14-2020, 09:28 AM
John Riley John Riley is offline
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I don't understand the outrage. I remember Rod McKuen. Someone has always managed to cash in by writing this sort of stuff. It's a different audience than one that reads the poets most of us prize. Why is it such a big deal now?
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  #17  
Unread 02-14-2020, 09:59 AM
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Julie Steiner Julie Steiner is offline
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Cross-posted with John.

(Okay, maybe I won't quite leave it at that. Maybe I'll spend another decade trying to write poems with more strengths than flaws.)

I do think it's fine for an artist to pick a narrow target audience, and to regard the opinions of people outside that target audience as irrelevant. Gosh, if I had a nickel for every time I've noted here that some arcane reference in a workshopped poem sailed over my head, and have been assured by the poet that it doesn't require a note, because it will be immediately recognizable the only people the poet is aiming to connect with--Southerners, or hunters, or cricket fans, or Shakespeare experts, or people who were in their twenties during the 1970s.

I don't understand why people get so upset when a woman of color has the temerity to do basically the same thing.

Rupi Kaur has been very successful in connecting with a target audience that doesn't happen to include most of us--and that most of us don't give a damn about, anyway. And part of her success in connecting with them is due to the fact that she has chosen a form that is far looser (and far less associated with class and education) than the sonnet.

Edna St. Vincent Millay only used the sonnet when it happened to be the right tool to use for connecting with her own chosen audience. There's nothing inherently "good" about the sonnet form. (Goodness knows I've written enough of them that are garbage.)

Last edited by Julie Steiner; 02-14-2020 at 10:28 AM.
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  #18  
Unread 02-14-2020, 10:43 AM
Roger Slater Roger Slater is online now
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Julie, why do you insist on linking people's opinion of Rupi Kaur with the fact that she is a woman of color? I think people here are equal opportunity mockers of bad poets who succeed. There's no reason to doubt or assign unworthy motives to people who find her poetry to be atrocious and therefore find her fame and financial success to be somewhat bizarre. The idea that only prejudice or bigotry could explain a negative reaction to Rupi Kaur conveniently overlooks the fact that her poems really do stink.

Having said that, I do object to anyone mocking or attacking Rupi on a personal level. As far as I know or can tell, she's a perfectly nice person who shares my interest in writing poems. We are, in effect, colleagues. If writing bad poems were a crime, they'd put bars around most MFA programs. But apart from the faux pas of having many admirers, I'm not sure what other charges people are leveling against her.

It seems to me that she is not poaching readers from "real" poetry but attracting an audience of people who had never read any poetry before and were not likely to do so in the future. If that's true, she is a wonderful influence. Surely there are people who enjoy Rupi who will then move on to other poets, or develop an interest in writing their own poetry. And surely the success of her paid readings might encourage coffee shops and libraries and small theaters to consider staging poetry events of their own, events at which poets more acceptable to the Sphere population may be performing.
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  #19  
Unread 02-14-2020, 11:05 AM
Mark McDonnell Mark McDonnell is online now
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Double posted

Last edited by Mark McDonnell; 02-14-2020 at 11:09 AM.
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  #20  
Unread 02-14-2020, 11:07 AM
Mark McDonnell Mark McDonnell is online now
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Quote:
Gosh, if I had a nickel for every time I've noted here that some arcane reference in a workshopped poem sailed over my head, and have been assured by the poet that it doesn't require a note, because it will be immediately recognizable the only people the poet is aiming to connect with--Southerners, or hunters, or cricket fans, or Shakespeare experts, or people who were in their twenties during the 1970s.

I don't understand why people get so upset when a woman of color has the temerity to do basically the same thing.
I think this is a huge misrepresentation of what people are objecting to in Kaur’s poetry and subsequent mega-success, Julie. My dislike of her stuff has nothing to do with feeling excluded due to it being full of arcane references to her experiences as a woman of colour. In fact as a reader I wish it had more of this, as that isn’t the experience I get from reading her at all. I dislike it because it’s so banal. I know it sometimes deals with difficult subjects like mental health and sexual abuse, and I accept that it may be genuinely helpful for some people who wouldn’t ordinarily seek out literature to see these subjects addressed, but this doesn’t mean it should be beyond criticism. For me, it feels like poetry for people who don’t really like poetry, they like inspirational Facebook and Instagram memes. Now, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, it would include most of the people I know in real life outside of the sphere, and as John points out, sentimental easy-to-digest angst has hit the big time before. I think what annoys people who are critical of Kaur’s poetry isn’t so much the poetry itself or her success as it is the attitude you’ve exemplified, that any criticism must be somehow vaguely racist, sexist or ageist. To me that’s both insulting to her critics and patronising to people of colour, women, young people and any combination of the three, as it says ‘stop being so elitist, this is the poetry for them’.

And it’s nothing to do with her writing loose free-verse rather than formal stuff either.

I pretty much said all I had to say last time, but to summarise: good luck to Rupi Kaur, I begrudge her nothing, I don’t think she or her audience are stupid, but I think her poetry is pretty poor.

Evidence

https://twentytwowords.com/22-gorgeo...and-touch-you/

Cross-posted with Roger who said the same thing, probably better.

Last edited by Mark McDonnell; 02-14-2020 at 08:04 PM.
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