When Helen Guri says this:
This brings me to a review I read a while ago, “Rosy-Fingered Yawn,” by Jason Guriel, about Alice Oswald’s work of poetry Memorial. It appeared in the September/October 2012 issue of the PN Review, although I did not notice it until a year later, when a link was posted on what would become a baroquely awful Facebook thread, the kind we Canadian poets seem to love to make, and which some might argue is our true genre of artistic achievement.The "baroquely awful" thing that happened was this:
On a recent Facebook thread, a female critic suggested that my review of Alice Oswald’s Memorial was the “poetry world’s version of a Twitter rape threat.” The critic had badly misread and misrepresented my relatively mixed and innocuous review. (For example, I called Oswald’s writing solutions “easy”; the critic decided I had called Oswald “easy.”) Nevertheless, Gillian Jerome—the Chair of CWILA—concurred immediately, and commissioned a blog post from the critic. Eventually, there was pushback on the thread— from no less than Tabatha Southey—and both thread and accusation were promptly deleted. The blog post has yet to appear. But for a few hours there, CWILA was in the business of libel.Surprised that someone would compare a skeptical poetry review to a "rape threat"? Don't be. Jan Zwicky ushered in that kind of discourse over a year ago, by describing negative reviews as non-consensual sexual encounters, or rape:
Some people write negative reviews because they enjoy feeling hatred; they find it erotically satisfying. That the writing of viciously negative reviews can satisfy sadistic impulses does not surprise me; but it is a weakness of my essay that I failed to discuss such satisfaction as a conscious motive. Is it, in fact, a good moral defence of the practice of negative reviewing? No. In sexual encounters, our culture condones sadistic behaviour only between consenting adults. I see no reason to think that our standards should be different for critics and the critiqued.