A reminder to myself that I also do critical writing! A short close reading of ‘The Academy of New Words’ by Beatrice Garland appears in the latest edition of Prac Crit, a rather slickly rendered online journal of poetry and criticism with a separate viewing pane for the subject of the critique alongside the critique itself.
I was initially unsure about this when approached by the editors, Sarah Howe and Vidyan Ravinthiran – I’ve written a lot of reviews in the past, of varying quality, but my approach tends to be quite – well, not close up. I talk more about groups of poems or patterns of poems, or better yet, try to identify and articulate the character of a whole book. In fact, the phrase ‘close reading’ slightly scares me, since I’ve always associated it with a very learned, academic approach to critical prose which requires a background in post-structural theory and god-knows-what-else.
This is somewhat ironic, because the poem I evaluate in this essay features as its principle conceit the idea of an ‘academy’ that is designed to have oversight and control of language but which rapidly becomes nothing more than a home to studious professors. I think that’s ironic anyway. Is it? OK, maybe just coincidental.