Weiner: "If You Read, You’ll Judge"

jacket imageIn an essay for the Poetry Foundation, Joshua Weiner, author of The World’s Room, examines the poetry world’s ongoing debate over the "best" poems.

When we read a list, on what do we pass judgment? On the list maker, to be sure… also ourselves…. And what are we judging in the list maker and, by extension, in ourselves? Two things, I think—personal taste and perception of history. We all have our personal lists of what we like best (taste) because we think it an example of the best of its kind (history). When a list goes public with the intention of establishing claims on our attention and gaining our approval, we become participants in the struggle of forming canons. And in the world of poetry, such struggles are ongoing, strange, and sometimes fierce.

Weiner explores these struggles while comparing various poetry anthologies, and, in the end, discovers that T. S. Eliot’s "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" seems to be the one poem nearly everyone can agree on. Read the rest of Joshua Weiner’s essay "If You Read, You’ll Judge."
Joshua Weiner’s The World’s Room is a dynamic first collection in which the literary and the personal, the elevated and the slangy, the sacred and the profane are beautifully intertwined. From nursery rhymes to riddles to prose poems, Weiner’s work displays boundless imaginative and linguistic possibilities. We will publish Weiner’s new book From the Book of Giants later this year.
Read an excerpt from The World’s Room.