Tuesday, May 19, 2009

“Her mediocre poetry”

The phrase stopped me, and I’ve been unable to continue reading. I think it’s the casual throw away nature of the insult. “Her poetry” is irrelevant to the book “She” is not a significant player in the story.

And I think it’s worse because it’s written by someone who has so far failed to demonstrate any kind of perception or skill above a level a generous observer might label “acceptable”. I am sludging through this book because I cannot find another on the subject.

Which makes me wonder.

So many critics are mediocre; they produce work which leeches off the poet and the poem but says nothing worthwhile. It's just a "look how clever I am" performance like a juggler tap dancing on a grave.

How many books have you read where you learnt nothing except the arrogance of the writer who thought what he or she had to say was of some importance, but which failed to say nothing an educated undergraduate couldn’t. How many reviews have you read where you thought: this reviewer has no idea, has missed the point and hasn't the generosity to accept or admit that the piece is beyond him or her?.

Maybe we should start labeling critics and reviewers: mediocre, insipid, minor, banal. Incompetent, outdated. The reading equivalents of colour blind and tone deaf. But casually, in throw away lines which require no justification.

And then again, perhaps not. I'd rather leave the adjectives out unless I was paying a compliment, or drawing someone's attention to something enjoyable and worthwhile.

Which reminds me: the third film in the Karnstein trilogy.

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