New York Times culture journalist attempts to make even poet laureate feel uncultured

When I read Deborah Solomon’s New York Times interview with new U.S. poet laureate Ted Kooser last weekend, my reaction was not unlike Josh Benton’s, but it was far less articulate. Here’s Benton’s take:

There is much to love about The New York Times, but I am constantly surprised by its journalists’ capacity to be elitist, self-important assholes. This brief interview with America’s new poet laureate — who has apparently committed the capital offense of living in Nebraska — drips with snobbery and condescension. “But you must know of Czeslaw Milosz, the much-beloved Polish poet who recently died.” (“And surely I must find a way to work his name into the Times, so I can show all my fellow Cornell grads that I still read The Paris Review.”)

I mean, I happen to admire what I know of Milosz’s work. But it seems to me that Kooser’s poetry — with which I’m not particularly familiar — should be judged on its own merits, notwithstanding his lack of familiarity with contemporary European poetry and his failure to travel to Paris.


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