- Selected Letters from Readers
Author’s Reply to Letters Regarding “Outrageous Dieting: The Camp Performance of Richard Simmons” (PMC 6.1)
In response to a number of letters regarding my article on Richard Simmons, I would like to say that it was never my intention to condemn Mr. Simmons. In my opinion, noting someone’s gayness is in no way an insult. My article was a piece of criticism that looked at Richard Simmons and his diet empire as a cultural phenomenon. Mr. Simmons’ personal life is, indeed, of absolutely no interest to me and I would not presume to discuss it. I was interested in his public performance, for he is very much a performer. While I think it it marvelous that Mr. Simmons has helped so many people, praising his dietary ideas was not, however, part of my article. Of course I take seriously the difficulty of losing weight but my article was not, I repeat was not, ever meant as a discussion of weight loss methods. As for the reader who suspects that I am a “skinney [sic] bitch”—I can tell you that you are mistaken on both counts.
Assistant Professor of French and Comparative Literature
University of Colorado, Boulder
PMC Reader’s Report on “The Slow Apocalypse”
Thank you, Andrew McMurry.
Your article is important and provocative. I will not forget it and will certainly reread it and share it with my friends. I am troubled by its veracity. I have two sons and am compelled toward hope. I remain hopeful but it is not a hope born of materialist sensibilities.
These comments are from: Chris Francovich
New Criticism Underground?
[The writer refers to Joe Amato’s review of Jed Rasula’s American Poetry Wax Museum, PMC 6.3]
I read the bit quoted from Rasula about the New Critics being now “underground” and came straight to the comments page. If I could e-mail Rasula directly, I would, so if there’s an address to be had I would welcome it.
Fact is, the heirs of the New Criticism are NOT underground at all. I did an MFA in poetry at the University of Arkansas, from which one Miller Williams will soon be venturing to DC to deliver the inaugural poem.
First let me say that I am glad for the 4-year, 60-hour MFA program I undertook. I learned more about “the tradition” in western-world poetry there then I could have anywhere else, if for no other reason than the time given me in the form of a 4-year TA.
I recognize now that along with the in-depth and thorough study of poetry past and present what I got was a straight and narrow (and I mean narrow) course on new-critical analysis. Like I said, I am grateful to at least know what that is all about. I could scan the tag on your jeans from 80 yards.
But lately I have come to realize (unless it is unique to my experience having done UA) that the majority of current MFA recipients/”certified” poets are/were taught by the direct descendents of the NC’s. In my case, my teacher-poets at UA, aside from circulating in a somewhat closed but expansive group of like-minds in the south and mid-west, are also the running mates of the likes of Wilbur, Justice, Taylor, et. al. and these people still wield influence ABOVE GROUND, if not directly, then through the hundreds of students they’ve had who are now teaching.
Please correct me if I am wrong, but the sheer fact of the poets’ entrenchment in the academy has provided an entire generation with the tools and the leisure to perpetuate a poetic that would have been dead 20 years now were the poetry teaching and poetry reviewing left up to scholars instead of poets themselves.
As a result, it seems to me anyway, the “experimental” writing out there is still in a state of reaction rather than one of clearly defining its concerns and...