On the Superlative

Best

Re: second submission, unsolicited.

“…there are some really wonderful lines here, and the flow from one to the next is quite breathless. I had to read it several times to really appreciate the poem.” –  “I do like the cycles of the last poem, and the images improve greatly; so does the music to my ear.”

If there’s no reward in rereading, then I have come up far short as a writer.

*            *            *

Worst

Re: first (and only) submission, unsolicited.

“…the details were interesting, but the poems seemed too carefully sculpted to come to life.”

Let me clear: without any knowledge of my relation to language and the work I do, this editor opted to cite my own words in her response (as one of three poems I submitted addresses a particular sculpture). Is she fit to judge what ekphrasis calls for? “Who knows what forms desire?”

The prejudice here would seem to favor shoddily constructed poems. Of course, poetry is not sculpture. We still don’t have room for complacency. How could I not be bothered by the sheer, overwhelming lack of craft in so much contemporary poetry—along with the absence of vision, far-reaching claims?

What burden? Let us at least recall Pygmalion’s devotion, how “[h]e laid her on a couch spread with cloths of Tyrian dye, and called her his wife, and put her head upon a pillow of the softest feathers, as if she could enjoy their softness.”

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