Eratosphere Forums - Metrical Poetry, Free Verse, Fiction, Art, Critique, Discussions Able Muse - a review of poetry, prose and art

Forum Left Top

Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 05-05-2017, 09:56 PM
William A. Baurle William A. Baurle is offline
Join Date: Sep 2001
Location: Arizona, USA
Posts: 1,844

Originally Posted by Gregory Dowling View Post
William, I agree that Hecht is amazing, and I have always loved that description of the A&P in the family-shop in "The Venetian Vespers". But I'm a little puzzled why you linked to that particular essay, which is an extremely negative piece, essentially damning Hecht for his baroque diction and "adjectival overload".

I've read other critics who don't like Hecht, but this is probably the most closely argued condemnation I've come across; however, I think, that apart from one or two cases, most of the charges he makes can be rebutted. I don't have time to do so right now but I would like to write an answer to this essay one day. Thanks for pointing it out, William - but I wonder if you had read it all the way through.
You are correct: I only read a part of it, which was all positive. I had the window open, meaning to come back to it, but never did.

Thanks for telling me this. How anyone could condemn Hecht is beyond me - particularly that poem, and I'll have to go and read the article to find out.

Reminds me of Mary Karr and her condemnation of James Merrill. While I like Mary Karr, she can't hold a candle to Merrill as a poet. Few can. Sometimes there's little more at work that simple envy. Like music critics who despise certain rock musicians for showing innovative, creative talent, and virtuosity on an instrument.

***Edited in: Well, I slogged through the whole article, and I am reminded of why I don't read much literary criticism. I take it Bosch is a good poet, or at least I hope so. I always took Pound's statement to heart, in his anthology, Confucius to Cummings, where he says something to the effect that the only criticism one should pay any attention to is that which is written by someone who has produced good work.

I mentioned Mary Karr. I want to make sure to say that she has produced good work, and is a fine poet; but her scathing remarks about James Merrill are a bit hard to swallow, and in my opinion she tried almost too hard to be negative about a poet who wrote what most afficianados of poetry consider to be absolutely top shelf work. Harold Bloom wrote some great stuff about Merrill. If you have something "against decoration", I can only wonder why? Stripped down poetry can be great, but it's not the only kind that works.

Anyone remember Keats? The mighty Keats wrote heavily modified poetry, and was sublimely "decorative". His Hyperion fragments were far and away the greatest things composed by someone of his years, IMO. A close second was Wilfred Owen, who was almost Keats reincarnated. And there was also Keith Douglas, who was writing good poems at 14 - but Douglas would be a poet Bosch might approve of more, being that his short, 6-line stanza poems weren't overloaded with modifiers. I could go on and on...

I have almost zero ambition to be a critic. I post critiques here, but that is mainy because I have to, and because I enjoy the interaction with other poets and I enjoy offering encouragement. You'll never see a crit by me that basically says: "Um, this poem stinks. I mean, it's just awful..." even though there have been many instances where that was my exact feeling.

Perhaps this is a weakness with me, but it's just the way I am, and at 52, I don't imagine things will change any time soon.

I do agree that adjective pile-ons can be cloying, but only if they are done poorly, and if the word choices are bad. I didn't find any of the examples of Hecht's modifying to be poorly done. Quite the contrary - although, there were a few words that seemed too obscure. But "insufflation" does not deserve the scorn heaped upon it.

I also think it's rather odd to think that a poem and a short story in prose are comparable. Those are two different animals. Updike was an amazing author, and a great poet. I have his Collected Poems, and he was every bit as good as a poet as some people who were known primarily, or only, as poets. I highly recommend the book. Especially one poem, written in expert Spenserian stanzas, which contains erudite scientific terminology and themes. I'd post a link to it, but I'm not finding it anywhere.

Gregory, I agree that there are many things in that Hecht article that can be rebutted, and rebutted quite soundly. If you do decide to write an article in rebuttal, please let me know, I'd be interested in reading it.

Last edited by William A. Baurle; 05-05-2017 at 11:15 PM.
Reply With Quote
Old 05-08-2017, 07:14 AM
Gregory Dowling Gregory Dowling is offline
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: Venice, Italy
Posts: 2,367

Thanks, William. I will certainly let you know if I do get round to writing a rebuttal. And I agree totally with you about "insufflation", as I do about Hecht's use of "adjective pile-ons". After all, what would Bosch have to say about the guy who wrote these pile-ons?

I had else been perfect,
Whole as the marble, founded as the rock,
As broad and general as the casing air.
But now I am cabined, cribbed, confined, bound in
To saucy doubts and fears.

Cut off even in the blossoms of my sin,
Unhouseled, disappointed, unaneled...

Come, gentle night; come, loving, black-browed night;
Give me my Romeo...
Reply With Quote
Old 05-08-2017, 07:59 AM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
Join Date: Mar 2017
Location: TX
Posts: 1,599

What an astonishing poet. I sometimes think of him as an unusually powerful drug. I'd love to try a bit, in my own small versification, but I think a little goes a long way.
Reply With Quote


Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Forum Jump

Forum Right Top
Forum Left Bottom Forum Right Bottom
Right Left
Member Login
Forgot password?
Forum LeftForum Right

Forum Statistics:
Forum Members: 7,853
Total Threads: 18,974
Total Posts: 245,637
There are 291 users
currently browsing forums.
Forum LeftForum Right

Forum Sponsor:
Donate & Support Able Muse / Eratosphere
Forum LeftForum Right
Right Right
Right Bottom Left Right Bottom Right

Hosted by ApplauZ Online