Thursday, August 14, 2003

Poets as critics

To David Webb's question

> Do you *really* believe that successful critics must perforce be poets?!

HLAS poetry maven, John W. Kennedy, replies: "How many aren't? Are their any literary critics of note who have not plunged in? I do not deny that composition and criticism are quite different, but I can't think of a major critic who is not also at least a minor poet. (And Walter Kerr confesses, somewhere or other, to being a failed playwright.) Of course, one need not be a practising poet to recognize bad grammar, a meandering plot, rude or inconsistent characterization, or inappropriate diction. But those are not specifically poetic faults (in the modern sense of "poetic", of course).

I quote this because I've been insisting that those who are incapable of composing blank verse or rime royal themselves have no business saying that a major poem of Shakespeare's Rape of Lucrece is inferior or juvenile.

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