Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The NYT and 'Language' Poetry

I wrote a letter to the NYT last Sunday night in response to James Longenbach's review of Salter's latest book. Since the Times refuses to run the letter, I've decided to recount it here.

Letter #1
Dear Editor,

In regard to James Longenbach's review of Salter's work, anyone who believes that the so-called Language Poets are merely 'part of the niggling history of taste rather than the grand history of art' hasn't been reading many poets of the last 25 years. Further, this 'movement' of poetics was not exactly 'named after' the magazine which, by the way, was called L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E, not 'Language.' Since Longenbach can't even get the name of the magazine correct, perhaps it would be better to suspend his opinion.

Letter #2 : Response from the Times. I do not have permission to 'show' their letter and I'm paranoid, so I'll paraphrase.
A 'staff' editor from the Times responded to my letter saying that Longenbach could not be 'taxed' as it is the Times editorial policy not to 'reproduce stylistic quirks in titles.'

Letter #3

First, I am flattered at your response.

With all due respect, L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E is not a 'stylistic quirk.' That is the NAME of the journal and partial to that 'groups' poetics. This oversight, along with Longenbach's obvious jab at this group either shows a gross naivete of American poetics or a very narrow view that no 'good' poetry is written beyond the walls of Iowa University.

Letter #4

There was no letter #4.

My question: Did Longenbach actually KNOW the name of the journal? Did he write it correctly and the editor's changed it? Was it a 'jab'? Or just an honest miseducation of 20th century literature? Inquiring minds want to know.

No comments: