Saturday, June 28, 2008

Flat Champagne

I don't usually mind William Logan's poetry reviews for the New York Times -- he dislikes most of the past and contemporary poets I dislike, albeit for different reasons. Over a year ago Brian Henry at Verse hit on the main problems with Logan (he doesn't review anything that isn't from a trade press, his ressentiment towards current scholarship in English, his Maureen Dowd-like "cocktail wag" persona). There isn't much to add to that.

But this week's, Logan's got a review, and a generally positive review, of Frank O'Hara's new Selected Poems. Logan likes O'Hara's stuff, and he may even be right that a Selected rather than the Collected is more digestible. It troubles me, though, to see a critic taking so much of O'Hara's self-built mythology at face value: the poems are easy, he writes about whatever happens to him, he doesn't want you to care about them, they go nowhere, etc. So the review winds up being as dismissive as it is favorable.

Still, Frank O'Hara is Frank O'Hara, and there's a lot quoted in Logan's review, so it's not all bad.

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