Thursday, September 27, 2007

Resignations and Accusations Reign

at The Poetry Society of America. Are we or are we not entering a period of McCarthyism and rampant unrepentant conservatism?

Not only that but just who in the hell is John Hollander and why haven't I heard of him before today?

Whoever-he-is, he apparently has made some remarks over the years which some voting board members considered to be racist. Other board members said they felt that such comments were not characteristic of Mr. Hollander’s views or had been misinterpreted. Mr. Louis-Dreyfus said that even if the comments were representative, they were irrelevant criteria for judging the Frost Medal, just as he would argue that Ezra Pound’s anti-Semitism should not detract from the literary appreciation of his work.

Mr. Louis-Dreyfus (whom I've also never heard of) runs an international commodities trading and shipping firm and dabbles (how the hell does one "dabble" anyhow? Either you do something or you don't) in writing poetry, said he resigned partly to protest what he regarded as an “exercise of gross reactionary thinking” among the other board members who left in the wake of the award to Mr. Hollander, a retired English professor at Yale.

Regardless of all that, I'm miffed because I thought I knew all the damn suspected and/or well-known bigots in the poetry world.

The point is - Mr. Louis-Dreyfus is right. Judging a person's character is different than judging that person's poetry. One should have no bearing on the other.

Be that as it may, I probably wouldn't buy a book of Mr. Hollander's poems for the same reason I wouldn't buy a portrait of a clown from John Wayne Gacy or stand in line at the book store to buy the latest copy of O. J. Simpson's new book (regardless of the fact that he won't ever collect any royalities from it) or wear a pair of Michael Vick running shoes or (although Dan disagrees with me) go stylishly jogging while sporting a light gray hoodie bearing the name of Bill Belichick or pay good money to listen to Don Imus on the newest pay-for-listen radio show - simply because there are too many other damn good clown portraits, novels, radio shows, running shoes, jogging hoodies and poetry books out there to choose from.

The way I figure it - why encourage stupidity when it's so simple (and so much cheaper) to avoid it?

1 comment:

Thomas Newton said...


"Just who in the hell is John Hollander?" --John Hollander is Diane Wakoskie's nemesis, a conservative poet like Frost, and my hero. He stood for quality crafted poetry, not stream of conscious trash.

"at The Poetry Society of America. Are we entering a period of ...rampant unrepentant conservatism?" --I hope so. I have been trying to get a sonnet published for 30 years.

Thomas Newton
Conservative Poet