Part of what attracts me to prose is that it’s a very unforgiving medium. It can be easy for a poet to gull reviewers and juries into thinking that he or she is a great talent. But there’s no more effective method for exposing someone’s cliché-ridden thinking than to ask them to write in complete sentences. Prose almost always gives away the poseur; it’s the perfect bullshit-detector... I’m happy that I’ve kept at it and grateful that editors have been willing to publish the results. But it’s come at a cost. For one, I’ve probably written fewer poems (Michael Hofmann describes his own reviews as “hindered poems”). It’s also, at times, infected my trust in poetry’s more mysterious aspects, introducing an unhealthy self-consciousness about my processes. Eugenio Montale had grave doubts about writing criticism, warning it risked shedding “too much light” on poems and robbing them of their secrets.
- Carmine Starnino, on writing poetry criticism, in conversation with Tim Bowling over at CV2. You can read the whole thing here.