nothing [was] being done with sound

Marjorie Perloff speaking at a panel discussion in 2000: "[M]y main objection to a lot of the poetry being written today is that nothing is being done with sound and the visual. And even in Stephen [Burt]’s talk just now I didn’t hear him say one word about sound. To me, the sound of a poem is at least as important as the semantics; so is the visual. Both are aspects of poetry, and I had a terrible experience just the other day when we were judging Mellon fellowships, doctoral fellowships, for the West Coast region in San Francisco. We talked to a young man who had done very well; his whole honors thesis was on Shelley’s ‘Epipsychidion.’ He went on about gender, he talked about masculinity and femininity, and how Shelley wanted to be a mother. But when I asked about the sound structure of the poem, he said ‘what?’ I asked, ‘what’s it written in? Is it written in terza rima?’ and he drew a complete blank. I really did find that quite shocking. Obviously Shelley had a reason for writing the poem as he did, as any poet does, and I think inattention to sound structure has produced the kind of flaccid free verse that a lot of poets use today; it’s not really poetry at all. It’s not that I don’t think it’s good poetry; I don’t think it’s poetry."

[from Jacket issue 12, 2000.]