Sound Criticism

The fonts say it all?
The fonts say it all?

Of all the plaints about contemporary poetry that have come down the pike, this one by Arthur Krystal strikes me as among the most reasonable, particularly this paragraph:

Ultimately, of course, it boils down to the personal, so let me say straight-out that the exquisite spareness of poets like Ryan and Armantrout, or the roll call of colloquial references favored by Ashbery, makes me work too hard. Yes, T.S. Eliot and Wallace Stevens also made me work, but at least I could hear their lines playing in my head. So what I’m asking is: Do I really want to spend time figuring out the associations among words on a page and the experiences they’re meant to distill if the sound of the poem doesn’t please me?

Hear, hear.

The unacknowledged elephant here is that for a very long time now music in poetry has been associated with (and is dependent upon) meter, and meter with form, and form with politics. And with that word, politics, begins a post I do not have time to even contemplate now. Though I hope to — perhaps when I’m done reading the least-pleasing writing ever conceived, freshman essays.


Sound Criticism

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