— Stephen Burt, Close Calls with Nonsense: Reading New Poetry
"To believe that any appreciation implies a unified theory of value in art, to believe that a critic must develop one, is to commit at least on logical fallacy: it is to assume that just because “poem” and “poetry” refer to a relatively stable, relatively well-defined class of things, we must appreciate or deprecate all such things for the same reason, must ask them to serve the same goals. In fact, I go to Pope for this, to Keats for that, to Dickinson for a third thing, and would not willingly part with any of the three. The same holds for contemporary poetry: I do not seek ingenious compression and riddling wit from Les Murray, nor from Bernadette Mayer; I do not look for extended, shamanic engagements with the raw forces of the id from Kay Ryan. I do not look for deft comfort amid centuries-old techniques when I read Denise Riley, nor do I look for intellectually ambitious embodiments of poststructuralist feminism in Richard Wilbur. Yet all these desiderata (comic treatments, oneiric reenvisionings, and so on) are to be had in some of the poets just named. The map of poetry in English, in this respect, resembles the map of the New York City subway: many trains run to many destinations, and some routes overlap for much of their lengths, but not all trains run at all times."