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More Dirt

June 02, 1991

Reviewer Gerald Nicosia should be congratulated for bringing a National Enquirer mentality to the pages of The Times ("A Life of Kenneth Rexroth" by Linda Hamalian, May 5).

With precious little space devoted to one of the giants of 20th-Century literature, Nicosia managed to turn the focus of his article away from the work--the driving force in Kenneth Rexroth's life--to simple-minded, cheap-shot material.

He accuses Rexroth of living off his wives, without chronicling the series of jobs he held down to make ends meet. (And what artist of real merit isn't plagued by the constant problem of shabby finances?)

He accuses Rexroth of "highly unfair reviews" when it appears that Nicosia has written a personal-vendetta article, stating that the biographer, Hamalian, has "a bit too much sympathy" (for Rexroth).

He laughingly embraces the notion of Rexroth in his latter years as "sometimes doddering."

A number of very strong, feminist women writers, not "students," worked with Rexroth during this period; I am one of them. (Curious that Hamalian didn't bother to track any of us down for interviews.) For several years we met weekly to focus on the world of poetry--of the dance that starts on a piece of paper and illuminates the world.

It's obvious that Nicosia finds that kind of meal less nourishing than good old junk-food gossip.


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