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Poetic Rebuttal

June 04, 1989

Regarding the dull bomb dropped on Book Review by Michael Guista, who believes that only "cute" commercial ditties are featured in the space provided for poetry (Book Review, Letters, May 7), I say horsefeathers!

First, The Times has, over the years, made a genuine commitment to report on, reflect upon and respond to the poetic voice--as it really exists--here, in the City of Angels: Since so many people--eggheaded as it seems--sit down and read each week's poem, who, I wonder, has the right to refute the immutable proof that The Times is part of that silent conspiracy from which L.A. is slowly stealing away New York's long-lived title as "Cultural Capital" of America?

Second, by casually labeling the poems published in the Los Angeles Times Book Review as "cute"--I have read, in past years, prison poets, feminist poets, Ivory Tower poets . . . "all types of poets"--a great disservice is done to the reader and the poet: namely their intelligence.

Third, one person's junk is another's jewels--who can really define what poetry is? Or what it is that makes cute cute? Denise Levertov, on poetics, states: "Like everything living, poetry is a mystery." While LeRoi Jones--remember him!--says, "There must not be any preconceived notion or design for what the poem ought to be.

Last, with limited space, the poetry editor at The Times must--rightly so--adhere to the main objective: to evoke an emotion from the reader. Beyond that, if one is so inclined, a public library seems to be the natural next step to entering "the endless shape" of the poem.

Poetry is alive in L.A.--Full speed ahead!



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