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March 17, 2010

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Hi Amy. I enjoyed Baker's book thoroughly. What do you think of his (or Chowder's) conviction that Pound ruined poetry, enjambment is bunk, and rhyme is a precious skill that poets would be foolish to discard?

Well I think the bit about Pound was fascinating. I wouldn't have to disagree about Pound ruining poetry. I think he improved a lot of peoples' poems.... But the controversy is exciting.

We know enjambment isn't bunk. It allows for multiple interpretations of the line, and therefore allows the reader to think ever critically. It's fun to hear disparate opinions though.

Rhyming is a precious skill. I wish it weren't looked down upon so!

Dear Amy: I agree with your take on The Anthologist. It was great fun to read. But, as you note, it is so much a discussion of poetry that I do wonder if non-poets would be as turned on by it. The narrator's high estimation of James Fenton, whose work I confess I had never read, inspired me to order his Selected Poems. I don't have a problem with rhyme, but I have to say that I didn't wind up sharing Paul Chowder's enthusiasm for Fenton's poems, except for "Tiananmen," "Gabriel" and a few others.

Speaking from the non-poet/poetry ignoramus point of view (incidentally the only one from which I can speak), I think this book is a really accessible (and enjoyable) intro to modern poetry. It did get a little "inside baseball" at times but even that mostly underlined his enthusiasm. I won't say I was never confused, and probably didn't get a pile of in-jokes, but I liked it.

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I left it
on when I
left the house
for the pleasure
of coming back
ten hours later
to the greatness
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"After You've Gone"
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as I enter
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