From Rodney Jones’ poem “On Criticism” in the new issue of Parnassus: Poetry in Review:
Without taste, criticism inflates to theory. The technique
and not the art. The theology without the religion.
The critic fails when he stops thinking of the sweetness.
What a wonderful day!
It’s dark, and raining, but it’s raining, above 50 degrees! I feel like Plath’s bees, tasting the spring. I think we all do — all the folks stopping by the bookstore have been uncommonly cheerful today.
Another reason to celebrate is that Parnassus: Poetry in Review came in the mail — it’s ginormous, practically a doorstop. A poetry doorstop. Glorious!
And lastly, but by no means the least, I celebrate Girl Scout cookies. Specifically, the caramel delight variety (formerly known as samoas) of which I purchased a whopping 4 boxes from the lovely Foxtowne Diner in town. They’re selling them right there behind the counter, there’s a whole section of them.
Unfortunately, if you’re looking for caramel delights, there’s only one box left. Sorry. I’ll give you one if you ask nicely.
Cookie, that is, not box.
It’s a common trope that more people are writing poetry than reading poetry, and even less are writing poetry criticism. Some of the welcome developments have been the expanded prose section in Poetry, and the reinstatement of poetry reviews in Publishers Weekly, which can be vital for library and bookstore sales. And the angel who invested in Parnassus: Poetry in Review saved a crucially unique journal, one devoted exclusively to poetry criticism. Their 30th issue comes out in March!
Online, however, is where poetry reviewing has really come alive. At sites like Galatea Resurrects, and The Constant Critic and countless poetry blogs, you can find critical writings on poetry & poets. And, wonderfully for the poet with a first book, there’s Growler.
From their website:
Growler strives to promote debut works of poetry by offering them exposure through review and criticism. Many first books are lauded as winning this prize or that, but what does that mean when almost every first book of poetry has won an award and been selected by a preeminent poet? Growler will provide serious inquiry into the merits of each book that we review, often giving the poets their first critical attention.
Many complain that there are too many poetry books being published, and often more specifically about the proliferation of first book contests. Many have also complained about a lack of serious criticism of contemporary poetry. Growler will take a stab at both issues, addressing one with the other. Criticism can act as a gateway to poetry, advising the general readership as to where they might begin. We hope that this site will act not only as a inroad, but also as a launching pad for the careers of the numerous talented yet under exposed poets who are just beginning to publish. These are the true “emerging writers,” whose poems are rising above the waters after years of gestation.