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A very well-written piece by Charles Bernstein - thanks for the link, Dan! Marjorie Perloff is probably my favorite mainstream literary critic. She has a very strong understanding of the poetic avant-garde and can always show what makes a poem beautiful and worth reading. I only disagree with Bernstein in his praise for Perloff's predilection for direct interpretation of language-oriented poems. Perloff certainly does have such a predilection, and occasionally it can lead to interesting and entertaining results (e.g., she presented at the 2011 SAMLA conference in Atlanta, and explained her interpretation of Gertrude Stein's lines in "Sacred Emily" "push sea push sea push sea push sea" as "pussy pussy pussy pussy"). However, more frequently, I have found Perloff's direct interpretations to be one of the weakest aspects of her work, causing her to put too much 'symbolic' weight on poems which the poet intended to remain light and free floating. Overall though a wonderful piece by Bernstein on a wonderful critic. :)

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About

  • Daniel Green is a literary critic and sometime fiction writer. His reviews, critical essays, and fiction have appeared in a variety of publications, both online and in print. He has a Ph.D focusing on postwar American fiction and an M.A. in creative writing.

Daniel Green's Current Website