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June 22, 2007


I agree withe everything you say here, especially about Oates.

I picked up one of her books not long ago and was aghast to find completely unreadable sentences on every page.

Shouldn't an author of her stature at least be able to construct a comprehensive sentence? What does her editor DO, anyway?


[I solve the Prelutsky problem by owning only one of his books, and leaving it at that. I think the whole branding thing is spot-on as an explanation, too.]

As author of the aforementioned screed I'm glad to see I'm not the only one bothered by Mr. Prelutsky's recent published verbosity. I have wanted to find a way to remove our Poet Laureate from the equation -- blaming his agent, or the publishers, or just bad timing for the sheer volume of recent releases. But then I see publishers rushing to get his backlist on the shelves with their shiny new Caldecott-Newbery-esque Poetry Foundation medallions stuck on the front and I don't know who to blame.

The PF can't possibly be making money off of sticker placement (can they?) and so I want to think it's publishers looking to hook the public with a look-alike sticker. But then... where do the publishers get these stickers from in the first place?

Ultimately, the title of laureate merely defines a person of distinction in a particular field. I have (and this may change now) assumed that a part of this distinction included a certain level of recognition by the recipient of both their craft and exposure to those who would benefit from the laureate's recognition.

Jack can still turn this around, but I don't see it happening.

So funny that you posted this today. I usually don't love Prelutsky's Poems, but I was in the mood for them today http://mentortexts.blogspot.com/2007/06/what-to-remember-about-children-by-jack.html.

Happy Poetry Friday!

Jody: I'm not an Oates' fan for this reason, though I think it's funny that I'm criticizing Prelutsky for the opposite problem -- sentences that are too formulaic and treacly.

David: Hey, thanks for visiting. From the little I know about stickers, I would have to assume the PF gets paid for them. It's like any other licensed, logo-bearing product. When we did this for the Cybils awards, we set up an account with a sticker manufacturer and then let publishers order what they need. We're supposed to get a percentage, if we ever sell any.

I agree on the idea that Prelutsky is meant to benefit from the additional recognition, and of course that SHOULD translate into better sales. I don't begrudge the guy a decent living. But the commercialism seems to be trumping all other considerations, to my untrained eye.

LT: Thanks! That is a funny coincidence. There are still many of his poems that I love, and that hasn't changed.

Yes -- I agree with you completely on all points made in your post and subsequent comments. And as if the ubiquitous Mr. P weren't, well, ubiquitous enough, some of the only other poetry books seeing the light of day with any sort of marketing behind them are from the same camp of rhyming funny poems.

The most original of his books in the past few years was probably If Not for the Cat, which avoids the issue of rhymed couplets by being a collection of haiku. Much, much better than Behold the Bold Umbrellaphent, good sports (bad book!), or Me I Am.

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Anne Boles Levy

Literary Weed Whackers

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