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Reading Poetry to Condemn the Poet




----- Original Message ----- 
To: <lcrew@andromeda.rutgers.edu>
Sent: Monday, March 07, 2005 10:55 PM
Subject: Re: My essay


> No sweat.
>
> By the way, I had one of my really crazy, conservative parishioners start
> quoting fairly erotic poetry from your web site and I was sort of caught
> off guard. Any thoughts (this is not an accusation here, simply a
> question).  They said you are posting pornography on your site (like all
> wild, preedatory homosexuals...blah, blah, blah.) and how disalute all
> LGBT people really are (your site was proof....).
> Just want to know how to handle them the next time, and there will be a
> next time.  They really are fairly sick folks.
> XXXXXX

David Virtue stirred up that hornets nest and ranted about my "pornography"
for quite a while.  I was particularly amused that he went in a big way for
my parody of Shakespeare's Sonnet 130,  to his "dark lady."  Mine is
published as "A Shaking Spear" at
http://newark.rutgers.edu/~lcrew/queers.html#shakings  Shakespeare makes a
similar point about his "Dark Lady."  Both of us are making fun of erotic
stereotypes and standing instead for thoughtful, loving caring
relationships.  I agree that it takes an adult sensibility to read such
material.  I also agree that many with an adult sensibility may still decide
they don't like his or mine or both.  It also takes a ticklebox in good
repair to read either poem.  Four editors have published that poem
besides the collection which I published above.  I wrote it 25 years ago, so
it is hardly the sensibility that I'm in at age 68.

I won't undertake to explicate all 866 of my published poems.  Obviously
some editors have liked them and some readers, or they would not have been
published.   They are not major works, but rather throw-aways.  I like
canonical literature, spent a career teaching it, but prefer to write
ephemeral pieces, mainly to re-mystify the world, as I spend so much of my
prose, (764 prose publications) trying to demystify it.

Teaching at Chinese University in Hong Kong, I asked two classes to read
the Song of Soloman.  I told one class that it was from the Bible, and
did not give the source to the other class.  I asked each class to respond
for a school board who had received a complaint that the teacher assigning
it was assigning pornography.  Students who did not know it was from the
Bible had an easier job of condemning it.  (See a full report of this
in "Thus Spake Who? at at 
href=http://www.rci.rutgers.edu/~lcrew/pubd/tspakew.html)

I suspect that much of the evil that your complainants allege is in the eye
of the beholder, though I would be the first to admit that I would not write
now many of the items that I wrote 20 and 30 years ago.  Chaucer said the
same, as did Wordsworth, though I am absolutely not in their league.  
I am glad they did not tear up the earlier, more interesting versions.

Joy!

Louie





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