Thursday, September 27, 2007

Squabbles in Poetry Society

Should past "politically incorrect" comments be taken into account in giving awards to otherwise a talented poet or a writer? Last year it was Germany's Gunter Grass who was under waves of critiques for his "coming out clean" in his memoir, of his involvement with the military branch of Hitler's Nazis when he was a 17 year old man. Many decades ago poet Ezra Pound's "anti-semitic" comments put him under the gun, though his immense talent as a poet was indisputable. Now, in our modern time, another poet with substantial credence is going through similar turmoils at the upper echelon of poetry society where all the "gurus" of poetry are squabbling on the merit of his receiving the prestigious "Frost Medal". Here is an extract from The New York Times article on this increasingly testy issue:
In one example, Mr. Hollander, writing a rave review in The New York Times Book Review of the collected poems of Jay Wright, an African-American poet, referred to “cultures without literatures — West African, Mexican and Central American.” And in an interview on National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered,” a reporter paraphrased Mr. Hollander as contending “there isn’t much quality work coming from nonwhite poets today.”
The concerns and displeasure of some of the poetic "gurus" are understandable considering the virulent comments above by Mr. Hollander, however, the "Frost Medal" is indeed given on a poet's overall merit as a poet, a life time achievement of his dedicated contributions to the world of poetry, and literature overall. Same logic applies to Gunter Grass and Ezra Pound's contribution to literature. Resignations and counter-resignations of high-profile "poetic gurus" resemble despotic and quarreling kids' endless fighting just before the summer vacation is over.

Link to The New York Times Article:
Poetry Prize Sets Off Resignations at Society

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