Saturday, May 2, 2009

William Logan can't remove his nasty mask

Our Savage Art: Poetry and the Civil Tongue
By William Logan

William Logan has become more famous as a disgruntled critic and trench-level wit than as a poet, his nominal calling, and it seems fated that the good writer will be recalled who he has dismissed so many for no reason other than an excuse to ladle out more of his cold, lumpy gruel.

Even in those instances where one is inclined to agree with him on principle there remains the scraping sound of a blade being sharpened in the background--in his estimations of Billy Collins, John Ashbery, Frank O'Hara, Robert Frost, all one need do is read on with half an eyelid open , allowing the reviewer to present his good, balanced graces and equivocations until he lands upon the puffed-up sins he wishes to expose and the poems he desires to slice and dice. It's a chronic malignity that suggests more symptom than judgement, an indication of someone who makes a harsher case than is required so much of the time.

An honest criticism is appreciated, always, but the negative is the only coin Logan chooses to spend which, I think, renders his judgements suspect , no less than a publicist's hand out. Does Logan desire to be Poetry's Simon Cowell? Doubtless, since there is a kick indeed in handing out bad notices. In Logan's career, however, it ceases to be a form of Truth Telling than an expression of a mind that cannot adjust it's comprehending filters long enough to dare a fresh insight, an idea that might surprise the reader. The lamest stand up comic alive comes to mind--you've heard these jokes before, a long time ago.We have instead a wind up monkey, clashing it's cymbals intensely until someone winds it up again.(less)

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