Josh stands up for weak poems against all comers.

As a perpetrator/survivor of the bruising listserve wars (Buffalo, Buffalo!) I can agree that online "critique" could get very warped. It probably shares the nervous testo-frenzy of internet behavior in general.

I also think that "micro" criticism could easily get very glib & superficial. Sometimes it takes many many readings (& side-research) to appreciate a poem.

Nevertheless, I think Josh is over-reacting. For one thing, it seems to me that Jeff Bahr is exaggerating the method in order to show how it works. But more importantly, I think this kind of analysis - hopefully offered in a sympathetic & generous manner - is very useful & necessary, if it comes from someone who knows what they're talking about.

How much bad writing gets high marks from supposed mentors - for certain strategic reasons, reasons which benefit the mentor, rather than the poet? (ie. trotting through a large percentage of mediocre & bad poems actually pays the bills for MFA teachers. & you don't want to make the students feel too bad; you don't want them to lose hope for their future niche in the industry, or even drop out of the program...)

But I don't want to turn this into a slam of CW teachers, not at all. As I say - if they know what they're doing, they're actually doing a service to literature.

"Poetry should be written fairly well." - Wm. Shakespeare

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