Tuesday, November 29, 2005


Billy Collins is more than just the sum of his one person. He stands for something greater, namely the face of American poetry, and the host of poets like him who are propagating the notion that the enterprise of writting a poem should be akin to a group of people sitting around on a couch and sharing feelings a la Oprah. The issue at hand is, are we supposed to sit on the sidelines and be quiet while a chorus of sycophants chants his merits, or do we need to add to the discussion and raise some tough questions. I think that is not only perfectly reasonable to speak out about poets like Collins in public forums like Amazon.com, but that it is vital. Let's be honest, a group of poets writing in small presses contributing a few negative reviews online is not going to put the slightest dink in Mr Collins' steely armor. But the reviews written by patrons of this community (House Press) have been thoughtful, insightful, inquisitive, and funny. I don't sense that we have made any cheap shots, and I certainly don't feel that the reviews or the sentiment behind them come from a standpoint of pretension. It has been many years now that Billy Collins and similar writers have dominated the publishing world and the public perception of poetry and literature. Not everyone will have access to the finest the world of arts and letters has to offer without some real digging. Maybe one person who enjoys Billy Collins will search out some other poets and make up her own mind after reading one of our reviews. And maybe not. I can accept that poets like Collins will be the highest sellers. I can accept that poets like him will be named poet laureate of our country. I can accept that the NPR's and New York Times Book Review's of the world will continue to put him on a pedestal. However, it is important not only that writers like ourselves are writing work that matters, but that we let our voices be heard in the multitude of public forums now available to us. -EU


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