Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Poetry Blues: Rita v. Helen Part 1

Rita Dove and Helen Vendler have many commonalities. Rita Dove was  a Fulbright Scholar; Helen Vendler received a Fulbright Fellowship in mathematics. Reared by working class parents who emphasised literacy, both are avid readers.They both spent any hours studying words and languages. Awards too numerous to list were bestowed on both women. Rita Dove was the first African American woman to be honored as a Poet Laureate, and has the dubious distinction of being the youngest recipient. Dove has also received a Pulitzer Prize. Helen Vendler  received the  2004, National Endowment for the Humanities, and has written myriad books and articles on poetry. Since 1978, Vendler  has been a literary critic for the New Yorker. They are both accomplished, intelligent, and aficionados in the poetry genre. However, controversy with conspiratorial whispers began when HelenVendler rendered a C- after reviewing The Penguin Anthology of 20th Century American Poetry, edited by Rita Dove.There were cries of racism assailed at Helen Vendler, and cries of multicultural inclusion railed at Rita Dove. Who's right  and/ or wrong in this literary tat-a-tat? Read part two.

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