Saturday 8 February 2014

Are Canadian Poets Publishing Too Much?

Michael Lista thinks so:
The interconnected system of publishers, granting bodies, magazines, reading series, etc. that, with the purest of intentions administers and disseminates what we call our literary culture, which by the numbers is as robust as it’s ever been, actively encourages, for its own survival, a writer’s worst attributes: vanity, assuredness, sophistry, mutual flattery, imprecision, inefficiency and an unselfconscious fluency that is the surest sign of a minor writer. The qualities that contribute to producing great work—skepticism, deliberation, patience—are not in the system’s interest. But this is Canada. Here individual achievement doesn’t matter as much as our ambient collective hum. We’re a country of collectivists, so it’s of a piece. To America’s Thomas Edison, whose light bulb couldn’t be more Promethean and singular, we politely answer with Alexander Graham Bell, whose invention is useless if you don’t have a friend.

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