March 10, 2007

E-mail: Letter to the New York Times about Poetry

I was inspired by this article in the New Yorker a few weeks ago by Dana Goodyear to send some poetry into a some publications, even if they were well out of my league. (I wasn't inspired by the talk of money, but by the discussions about style.) I had sort of misinterpreted her article as being a balanced piece of reporting about a complicated issue, like the money flowing thru the Poetry Foundation. Unfortunately, David Orr wrote a viscious response in today's New York Times, and it turns out Goodyear's article was a below-the-belt attack on all involved in the rich conservative poetry world. How was I supposed to know? He even complained about the length of her article and its colorful descriptions, which reminded me of when FoxNews told parents not to take their kids to see Happy Feet because it was both Left-Wing Environmentalist Propaganda and too long for their attention spans. The point I'm trying to make I wrote to the editor at the Times, to be lost in the annals of their inbox:

Date: Sat, 10 Mar 2007 14:48:59 -0800 (PST)
From:"James Welsch" <>
Subject: Orr's article on Poetry

It was strange that David Orr was so mean about Dana Goodyear's article in the New Yorker. I loved her article, and did not see it as a hit-piece on the Poetry Foundation - actually, it got me excited about Poetry Magazine and the Foundation, and I enjoyed reading about some of the people & issues involved. Orr's article, alternately, was a hit-piece, and left me disgusted at him. Of course she's been published a lot by the New Yorker: she works for them! If one of her themes was the new money flowing around the poetry world, so be it. It's better than choosing as a theme for your article, like, say, how a venerable old magazine sucks.

James Welsch
Berkeley, CA

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