Given William Logan’s sharp criticisms of contemporary poets (see examples here and here), one could only wonder how he might fare under the scrutiny of another critic. So, how would the New York Times Book Review assess William Logan’s new book Our Savage Art: Poetry and the Civil Tongue?
Not surprisingly, reviewer Mark Ford highlights some of the more memorable shots that Logan has taken at contemporary poets:
“The only way Ammons could have improved ‘Ommateum’ would have been to burn it”; “Almost everything Graham writes offers the swagger of emotion, pretentiousness by the barrelful and a wish for originality that approaches vanity — she’s less a poet than a Little Engine that Could, even when it Can’t”; or, on Billy Collins: “He’s the Caspar Milquetoast of contemporary poetry, never a word used in earnest, never a memorable phrase. . . . If such poems look embarrassing now, what are they going to look like in 20 years?”….
Ford commends Logan for not being timid in his criticism (an understatement to be sure) and his refusal to follow the fashions of the day in poetry or criticism. Often lost amdist Logan’s biting critiques are his essays that praise and celebrate the works of the poets that Logan admires. Ford concludes by pointing to Logan’s essay celebrating and rescuing the work of the relatively unknown poet John Townsend Trowbridge.