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IN REGARDS TO ETELKA
Lehoczky’s article on Thomas Disch’s new book (Books, 11/17), don’t you think there’s some value, when it comes to poetry, in having informed reviewers write reviews of informed books?
Granted, the snide and smug urban tone of many Washington City Paper reviewers can be pretty offensive at times. But at least a reviewer like Mark Jenkins assumes there’s some value in knowing something about subjects that he writes on. Whatever its shortcomings, that sort of urban, above-it-all world-weariness is infinitely preferable to the suburban couch-potato assumption of Lehoczky’s review that neither she, Disch, or anybody else has any reason to care about poetry, or any obligation to know anything about it.
According to Lehoczky, Disch is a novelist who doesn’t think poetry is demanding. So why should anybody think that he has any clue what he’s talking about when it comes to poetry? One might as well say that Jesse Helms is an important art critic because he doesn’t like art and knows nothing about it.
Why does City Paper consistently pride itself on ignorance about literature? Are there really that many more people in Washington, D.C., who care about progressive films than who care about innovative writing? I don’t think so. There are many poetry-reading series, open mike nights, etc., all over D.C.—almost a reading a day, and many of them are well attended. If you can do no better, at the very least poetry needs to be treated with the same informed disdain that City Paper brings to art and music.
It’s one thing to point out that many people are ignorant about poetry. It’s another thing to assume that such ignorance is justified. It’s like saying that maybe what Mark Jenkins doesn’t understand is that Dumb and Dumber has more honest connection with “the people” than all those haughty poseurs with the gall to take film seriously.