Friday, January 27, 2012
I lived in Massachusetts for about 3 decades, over the course of which period the state's Arts Foundation awarded cash grants to hundreds of poets—
but of course they didn't give a fucking penny to me. I found the above in an old file—it's just one of many such annual missives I received from them . . . I'd love to have the paranoid certainty that a cabal of Boston PoBigs (Pinsky Bidart Warren et al) had ordered the Foundation to blacklist me, but the truth is that the poetry I wrote then (and now) isn't any good, and that's why they rejected me.
the top left one there was particularly hurtful to get because Claudia Keelan in her youth had been in a workshop I taught, and I encouraged and praised her work. And I wrote a blurb for her first book. But of course by the time I sent these poems to her magazine Interim, decades had passed and she knew that I had become a pariah, persona non grata, outcast by Ameri-PoBiz, excommunicated from its offices, and she knew that any association with me would harm her career. Or more likely the poems I sent her for Interim were just so bad that she didn't think they deserved any more than an unsigned form rejection slip just like the hundreds of others she sent out that semester.
"[Bill Knott's] poems are so naive that the question of their poetic quality hardly arises. . . . Mr. Knott practices a dead language."
—Denis Donoghue, New York Review of Books, May 7, 1970
[Bill Knott's poems are] typically mindless. . . . He produces only the prototaxis of idiocy. . . . Rumor has it that Knott's habit of giving his birth and terminal dates together originated when he realized he could no longer face the horror of a poetry reading he was scheduled to give."
—Charles Molesworth, Poetry (Chicago) Magazine, May 1972
"[Bill Knott is] malignant."
—Christopher Ricks, The Massachusetts Review, Spring 1970
"[Bill Knott's work] consists almost entirely of pointless poems, that say disgusting things. . . . [His poetry is] tasteless . . . and brainless."
—Michael Heffernan, Midwest Quarterly, Summer 1973
"Consider Bill Knott, a poet who writes lots of very short poems that are nothing but bombast."
—Josh Hanson, Livejournal, 28/06/07: http://josh-hanson.livejournal.com/26249. html
"Eccentric, uneven . . . poet Bill Knott is not [fit] to win prizes . . . [His work is] thorny . . . rebellious, avant-garde . . . ."
—Robert Pinsky, Washington Post.com, April 17, 2005
"[Bill] Knott's work tends today to inspire strong dismissal. . . . [He's] been forced to self-publish some of his recent books. . . . [B]ad—not to mention offensively grotesque—poetry. . . . appalling . . . . maddening . . . . wildly uneven . . . adolescent, or obsessively repetitive . . . grotesqueries . . . . [His] language is like thick, old paint . . . his poems have a kind of prickly accrual that's less decorative than guarded or layered . . . emotionally distancing . . . . uncomfortable. Knott . . . is a willful . . . irritating . . . contrarian."
—Meghan O'Rourke, Poetry Magazine, Feb 2005
"Knott is making capitol on poetic fashion, attempting belatedly to enter the canon of the Language poets by reviving the idiom of Ezra Pound. [His work] so successfully defies communicating anything that one wonders what [his publisher] had in mind. . . . Knott, it may be recalled, "killed" himself in the early 1960s."
—R. S. Gwynn, The Year in Poetry, DLB Yearbook 1989
"[Bill Knott is] incompetent . . ."
—Alicia Ostriker, Partisan Review, Vol. 38, #2, 1971
"Bill Knott, the crown prince of bad judgment."
—Ron Silliman, Silliman's Blog, June 26, 2007
"Bill Knott's poems are . . . rhetorical fluff . . . and fake."
—Ron Loewinsohn, TriQuarterly, Spring 1970
"[Bill Knott's poetry is] queerly adolescent . . . extremely weird. . . personal to the point of obscurity. . . his idiosyncrasy has grown formulaic, his obscure poems more obscure, his terse observations so terse they scoot by without leaving much of a dent in the reader. . . . There is a petulance at work [in his poetry]. . . . [H]is style has grown long in the tooth. . . . In fact, [Knott is] unethical."
—Marc Pietrzykowski, Contemporary Poetry Review, 2006
"Bill Knott's [poetry is the equivalent of] scrimshaw. . . . [He's] either self-consciously awkward or perhaps a little too slangily up-to-date."
—Stephen Burt, New York Times Book Review, November 21, 2004
"Bill Knott['s] ancient, academic ramblings are part of what's wrong with poetry today. Ignore the old bastard."
—Collin Kelley (from "They Shoot Poets Don't They" blog, August 08, 2006)
"Bill Knott . . . is so bad one can only groan in response."
—Peter Stitt, Georgia Review, Winter 1983
"Bill Knott bores me to tears."
“Bill Knot[t] sucks.”
—Marcus Slease (from “Never Mind the Beasts” blog, June 10, 2005)
"[Bill Knott's books are] filled with venom. . . . Knott seems to hate himself . . . and he seems to hate his readers."
—Kirk Robinson, Another Chicago Magazine, #36-38, 2000
"Bill Knott's a prissy little moron."
—Matthew Henriksen, http://hyacinthlosers.blogspot.com/, March 23, 2009
"[Bill] Knott's poems, with their flat language and simple declarations, typically fail to impress."
—Seth Abramson, Huffington Post, September 21, 2013
"Bill Knott should be beaten with a flail."
—Tomaz Salamun, Snow, 1973
"Bill Knott [is a] now-forgotten oddity."
—Peter Straub, July 2, 2012, weirdfictionreview.com
(PLEASE NOTE: the above quotes are authentic and can be verified by checking the sources indicated. This selection is random, drawn from material at hand. Many others of a similar nature could be researched and added.)