Amorak Huey on Writing Funny

The Sundress Blog

A FOOT WALKS INTO A BAR. BARTENDER SAYS, “HEY, ARE YOU A FOOT?” FOOT SAYS, “YES, IAMB.”

For openers, a peeve: It’s highly annoying when poetry reviewers seek to praise the poetry in question by insulting other poetry.

In Sunday’s New York Times Book Review, Patricia Lockwood’s Motherland Fatherland Homelandsexuals drew the following blurb as an editor’s choice: “Lockwood offers a collection at once angrier, and more fun, more attuned to our time and more bizarre, than most poetry can ever get.” I like Lockwood’s poetry, I’m happy to see it earning mainstream attention, and I do find it generally fun, angry, bizarre, attuned to our time. But she’s certainly not the only poet to whose work these labels apply.

When I see such sweeping declarations, I tend to think the reviewer probably hasn’t read much poetry since that Intro to Lit survey back in sophomore year, and is…

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