Wednesday, April 20, 2005

This will never do

Writing in the Edinburgh Review in 1814, Francis Jeffrey began his review of Wordsworth's The Excursion with the following sentence: "This will never do." Ah, what magisterial disdain! What snark! He was right, of course, Wordsworth's turgid blank verse sucked some major ass in this particular effort, but it wasn't nearly as bad as the overwhelming majority of poetry published today. Yet will we read such an honest and amusing review as Jeffrey's? I think not. You've heard of grade inflation? Well, today's poetry world suffers from review inflation. Everything published is wonderful, we would have to believe, if reviewers of contemporary poetry were telling the truth. Even the slightest hint of ambivalence is regarded as utter condemnation by today’s thin-skinned wimps, who crumble before the slightest whiff of disapproval. The reason for the ubiquitous niceness of today's reviews is quite clear: it's a culture of cronyism. Everyone is worried that the person being reviewed might be on some hiring or award committee that the reviewer will someday have to face, so backs are patted, and the praise is duly dished. Well not here at Poetry Snark. We are planning an upcoming series of reviews that will curdle the bowels of dilettantes everywhere. Stay tuned...


Anonymous William Wordsworth said...

Francis Jeffrey is a royal arse.

3:31 PM, April 20, 2005  

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