Once, I wrote about how critics approach the poetry of women writers. This was related to the quite denigrating language of the Telegraph’s Allan Massie, wherein a well-rounded spite is condensed into some throwaway aphorism which deigns to suffice as poetic-critique.
“Conversely, Carol Ann Duffy’s work which speaks so clearly to many today may seem stale to posterity. I have no idea whether this would distress her.
Nevertheless the “difficult” poets do not disdain the more immediately accessible ones when they are good.” (Allan Massie)
Sure we can only be glad that the overweening poetic establishment could be bothered to read books by women authors, even if the exercise amounts to throwing the odd poisoned crumb off the table of excess. As Eavan Boland said in her speech to the Poetry Book Society, and I repeat, ‘Gods make their own importance’ . Critical review of women poets is reduced to begrudgery and academic nonsense upon a scale of self-importance that reveals itself as both protectionist and nasty when it comes to the circle-jerk of self-importance that represents contemporary poetic review.
Reader, I buy Carol Ann Duffy and I buy Alice Oswald. I won’t be buying Poetry reviews and journals that tend toward the celebration of stupidity and/or cupidity. I won’t be interested very much in newspapers wherein review pages are clotted with the excreta of the overtly clever male reviewer who yawns so tediously when not asked to expound his cleverness onto his male friend and has to make do with having to read women poets. Bless the poor-hearted male-critic whose contemporaries wish alone for him to regurgitate some appalling nonsense about his brother. Sure he need not bother to read the book when he puts the review recipe together. Those gods of self-importance own superlative dictionaries glutted with useless words with which to benignly stroke the ego of whoever happens to be handing out the academic morsel, crumb or laurel-crown for this particular year.
That women poets would subject themselves to a Guriel yawn or a Massie grunt is beyond me.
Dear Women Poets appeal to your reader, your market if you will. You won’t find him or her sitting upon thrones constructed of the spit and bile that comprises a review of the woman poet. I am adding here two links, Guriel’s velvety yawn at Memorial, and Massie’s bit of sexist crap masquerading as comment.
Listen to Alice Oswald speak the poem, Memorial at http://www.poetryarchive.org/poetryarchive/singlePoet.do?poetId=15354