AN AMERICAN STORY / ELIZABETH CAMPBELL
In the October issue of Poetry (USA), (I promise I only read it for the articles!) the young poet and critic Michael Robbins published a lively, funny, clear-sighted and irreverent review of Robert Hass’ The Apple Trees at Olema: New and Selected Poems: http://www.poetryfoundation.org/journal/article.html?id=239972
In the following issue were seven letters to the editor, mostly bewailing the rough treatment given to Hass, and Michael Robbin’s response to these letters: http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poetrymagazine/toc.html?issue=2341
In the December issue, one final letter from poet and critic Belle Randall, gave the entire debate a beautiful close-reading close: http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poetrymagazine/letter.html?id=240838
My point is not to particularly dismiss Hass – though I did agree with Robbins’ original assessment, and I do think his work should be banned in Queensland – but to draw readers’ attention to a lively debate, and to the stakes involved in writing criticism. I’m glad Robbins is game.
Congratulations to Poetry – whilst the poems aired in this journal each month are almost universally dreadful, this debate was worthwhile.