Friday, March 20, 2009

red-headed godchild

I don’t know a poet who likes being compared to another poet. It suggests stealing and, worse, a lack of originality. I’m sure many women poets can recall at one point or other being likened to either Sylvia Plath or Anne Sexton. Maybe because both expressed feelings about the self, statis, marriage, the urge to negate, entrapment, isolation, etc etc that most people have - from a woman’s point of view. But, style-wise, to have someone say “this seems a homage to Sexton” is like having your mouth plugged with sand, even if it’s meant as a compliment. And yet so many book jackets say, “Her poems evoke Plath . . .”

But perhaps more uncomfortable than being compared to a poet is being compared to two poets simultaneously, eg “It’s like Charles Simic making love to Syliva Plath over a place of oysters.” Or “His poems are a cross between Baudelaire and an Asian Jack Kerouac,” or “This is what Charles Bukowski would write if he were a ventriloquist for a drunken H.D.” That makes these unlikely pairs, and they're always unlikely, into the poet's parents! Not the best blurb, but often funny.

Wait until they start bringing in the siblings, cousins, stepparents and neighbors.


Anonymous said...

This idea reminds me very much of what Virginia Wolfe expressed in "A Room of Ones Own".


Anonymous said...

BTW, I often write from work where I cannot log in, but I'm bob jeronowitz - someone that went to HS with you in SP. I've been 'digging on' your blog for the past few months.

SarahJane said...

Hi Bob! I sat right behind you in Algebra class... smile

Anonymous said...

Roz Chaste was interviewed on PBS on Sunday and it made me think of you.

Anonymous said...

I like your words of wisdom spoken so wisely.

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