Thursday, February 17, 2005


Jack Foley responds:

Various people, including Dana Gioia, have insisted that we need more criticism. No doubt these people are right, but the problem is that most “critics” have no better idea of what constitutes criticism than they have of what constitutes poetry. Tim McGrath’s review of Eratio is a case in point. An enormous amount of the critic’s energy is spent on the name of the magazine’s editor--not on the name of the magazine, which presumably the critic hasn’t a clue about, but on the name of the editor. The critic puts forth many nasty, bullying words, words which constitute his basic way of making his case: “incomprehensible postmodern fodder,” “embarrassing asseverations”--oh, if the critic knows a word like “asseveration,” he must know something. Unfortunately--to continue to quote “Old Man River” or Old Man Discourse--he don’t say nothing. Why should we believe this big mouth? Does he offer any actual quotation to support any of his claims--for instance the designation of editor St. Thomasino as “a pseudonymously guarded narcissist or the tragi-comic hero of a Wes Anderson film.” Oh my, oh my. The strategy here is that if the critic establishes a suitably pompous and/or academic, “authoritative” tone, he doesn’t have to offer any proof: we’ll just believe him. Well, I for one don’t, and I have looked into Eratio. There is no essential difference between what this “critic” offers us and what we are offered by the Bush administration. “Believe me.” “Why?” “Because I’m an authority, that’s why.” If ever we need to “question authority,” it is at such moments. We do indeed need more criticism--words enlightening texts. We don’t need more authoritarian bullshit.

-- Jack Foley


I hear you paint houses.
Yeh, it’s mostly the color red.
You wanna be my pal?
You can paint some houses for me.
Glad to.
You just stick with me.
Glad to.
You don’t paint my house.
Or if you hafta, don’t make me suffer, ok?
You can be my friend.
And I’ll take care of you, you know?
We’ll be pals. I need a friend.
You like girls?
You paint houses for me, you get girls.
And money. You get money. But don’t paint my house.
Not my house. Just those others. Remember that and you’ll be ok.
House paintin’. Jeez.

Poem by Jack Foley

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