Wednesday, December 16, 2009


“’More than a crime against language or a betrayal of the reader, the rejection of meter is an act of self-castration by the author.’”

- Joseph Brodsky, as quoted by J. Kates in an essay on translation at the back of the anthology In the Grip of Strange Thoughts: Russian poetry in a new era.

I’ve tried. I’ve tried to say something in response to this. It’s one of the awfulest statements of poetics I have ever read. I try again. I erase everything. Based on the above I suspect Brodsky has never written a word worth reading.


Kent said...

but it's got a nice rhythm, and you can dance to it

Glenn Ingersoll said...

If only it had stayed in the original Russian.

Kevin Cutrer said...

Well, his is definitely worse than Frost's oft-repeated tennis net analogy (which also doesn't hold up to scrutiny), but those who write in meter, especially at that time when there was such entrenchment, tend to feel very strongly about it, for better or worse. But I can't help but think that your comment is just as rash as his--based on one off handed remark you're willing to dismiss his entire oeuvre?

You may be right--at present I know very little about Brodsky beyond the name--but you could be missing out.

Glenn Ingersoll said...

Hyperbole, meet hyperbole.

Ah well. I've read some Brodsky poems and have yet to be impressed. He insists on writing in rhyme & meter in English and I've read good rhyme & meter; his isn't. ... Maybe in Russian, but I'm no judge of that. Or maybe I'm a castrated criminal traitor, who knows?

Kevin Cutrer said...

Ah, sorry I didn't catch your meaning exactly.

I wonder what he'd make of someone who's only castrated part of the time?

Rhyme and meter, when they're bad, are hard to take.