Thursday, January 7, 2010

Does This Need Further Comment?

From Ron Silliman's pen, today:

"I can remember the days when newspapers had if not great writers, at least good ones with some clue as to style."

OK, I'll go against the header with a brief note: I suppose the defense here would be that he's simply jotting down "text" in a hurry. He's a busy blogger, obviously. But so are newspaper writers. In fact, they have deadlines more fraught with tension than is the norm with Silliman's project.

Need more?

"Even when a single writer could dominate a single market – the way Herb Caen did San Francisco in the 1950s & ‘60s – costs were kept down by the knowledge that Herb Caen’s three-dot style might fly in SF, but it would be too esoteric even in nearby Modesto, while he would come across as pure country bumpkin – the Sacamenna Kid, as he would have put it – in a burg like New York."

I still can't attribute the quote to the right source, but "a poet should be able to write prose at least as well as a professional prose stylist" (paraphrasing) comes to mind.


Bryan Sentes said...

"Poetry must be as well written as prose." Ezra Pound to Harriet Monroe, January, 1915 (Selected Letters 1907-1941, p. 48). Variations on this statement are scattered throughout his critical prose.

Brian Palmu said...

Thanks, Bryan. I had it narrowed down to Auden, Frost, or Pound, but wasn't sure about picking door 1, 2, or 3.

Zachariah Wells said...

There was someone else--a US critic, I think--who said that a litmus test of a poet was how good his/her prose was, because poetry could be faked, but prose couldn't.