I found this essay by Camille Paglia very interesting, & it sent me to look for her anthology (guess I'm one of the few people in America who hasn't read it). Of course I've heard of Paglia, but never actually read anything she'd written.

She strikes me - from a quick scan of this essay, anyway - as a sharp-eyed reader, with high standards for the deployment of literary language, an independent mind. She also strikes me as a kind of populist - which is great in some ways, but in others, not so great. Seems like there is a danger, with criticism, of making narrow and absolute judgements about what poetry is or should be.

Poetry happens on a variety of wave-lengths, and a lot depends on what direction the poet is taking it, or it is taking the poet... what is the context, what are the literary aims, what is the particular application? (Contra Paglia, for example, poetry can overlap with philosophy.) Poetry is flexible, it's not just one thing - it doesn't all or always fit the common denominator of anthology-material.

But she's right to focus on this very issue of the ordinary reader. I'm surprised she didn't like Auden's famous "Musee des Beaux Arts". Have to go back & compare the poem to her take on it.

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