On Fri, 27 Feb 1998, Peter Riley wrote:
> Thanks, Ric for telling me my "once fine mind" has
> decayed beyond recognition. And what the hell has a "Cambridge education"
> got to do with what I said?
- poison in jest, Peter, no offence i' the world... sincere apologies for
any hurt in badtempered outburst.
> ... Cambridge ... It's
> nothing to do with me. It's to do with someone else.
- and I was only passing by, yerhonour, and my friends put me up to it.
Well, that's sorted out then...
> All I said was that the tone of recommendation being used implied a
> community of interest which is belied by the incoming correspondence.
- what you said, was: <snip> ... I'm not at all sure that it's such a good
thing to go around recommending poets on a site like this [...] Having
viewed the range of persons involved and read the various forms of address
they go in for, I'm sure there are people on this list to whom the work of
John Wilkinson would mean absolutely nothing [...] Accurate description of
and quotation from what you're trying to sell would make sure quite a few
people DIDN'T rush out and buy it ... <end of snip> - and the assumptions
in that, i.e. that the minds of your fellow listmembers are so closed that
they only follow poets close to their own patches of turf, struck me as
contrary to the spirit of the list, and, forgive me, worthy of correction.
> Who pays any attention to arbiters, be they Andrews Motion or Duncan?
... I don't see that it makes any significant difference.
- don't you? Are you so far removed from the approved organs of literary
culture in this country that you haven't noticed a certain - er -
imbalance in their coverage? Whilst there are, on this list and elsewhere,
many sturdy individualists who indeed don't follow arbiters, for many
people - not all of whom are brainless wimps - a big shiny bit of product
endorsement gets taken seriously, and anything away from that norm is
> There are certain specific zones of cultural
> promotion which remain a scandal, there's no doubt about that, but they
> don't thereby create a mainstream.
- hmm... if these specific zones are a scandal, we seem to be agreeing
fiercly... sooo... the mainstream I described isn't the mainstream, but
your (as yet undefined) mainstream doesn't exist, am I right? Let's call
the whole thing off?
> There are two ways of MAKING IT for young poets in English-language poetry
> these days: right and left (official poetry and academic poetry)...
- very quietly now, Peter, what is this "official poetry" which you
recognise? I think I know it by a different name, but I want to be sure...
It's not about "making it", never was. It's about not having the people
who teach English to your children sneer at you because you don't write
like Sean O'Brien. I'm tired of that.
On we go.