William Logan

Various people have commented on this in The New Criterion. Basically it’s Logan being rude about various famous US poets in an entertaining fashion – ‘Jorie Graham loves big ideas the way small boys like big trucks’ for example.

I thought this was quite ironic, though:

“Kooser wants a poetry anyone can read without shame and understand without labor, because he thinks poetry has too long been in the hands of poets who ‘go out of their way to make their poems difficult if not downright discouraging.’ This would come as a surprise to Shakespeare and Milton, Pope and Browning, and other poets who thought poetry was for those who loved it enough to spend time educating themselves—indeed, who felt that learning to read poems was itself an education. (Folks like Kooser want to render Shakespeare or the Bible in kitchen-sink English, without a difficulty or a discouragement in sight.)”

The basic point is a reasonable one, but since he mentions the Bible – the KJV is 70-90% (depending on which bit you look at) based on the translation of William Tyndale, someone who explicitly wanted to take scripture out of the hands of the educated elite and make it accessible to all. He said he wanted it to be understood by a ‘ploughboy’. Which seems pretty close to the Kooser philosophy.

Tyndale really deserves wider recognition as one of the greatest writers English has produced, but that’s another topic.