William Logan taught poetry writing at my alma mater. His eviscerating critiques were legendary there, and so blistering that the invectives he’s hurled at Franz Wright, the 2004 Pulitzer Prize winner for poetry, seem positively loving by comparison. Yesterday’s Slate had the scoop (third item) on the brawl, which reportedly:
started when a Logan review called Wright’s poems “rancid and repetitive,” “the Hallmark cards of the damned,” and the author himself a “fragile, self-obsessed” “sad-sack punk.” Wright (not the first Pulitzer winner offended by Logan) wrote the Criterion to brand the critic a “grotesquely mean-spirited mediocrity” and warned Logan that, should their paths cross, “I will not be able to resist giving you the crippling beating you so clearly masochistically desire.” Logan’s response: “I will come and go as I please, and would be glad to provide him with an itinerary.”
(Via Tingle Alley.)
When I studied at U.F. in the early 90’s, Logan and fellow poet Debora Greger, his girlfriend, were were often seen at local cafes, laughing and drinking coffee. Their mere presence in a local establishment seemed to up the I.Q. of the place by 75%. They were Gainesville’s answer to to Sartre and Simone De Beauvior, or to Woody Allen and Mia Farrow — except that last I heard Greger and Logan were still together.
In my junior year, I signed up for an advanced poetry writing class with Greger, who’s smart and austere, and who sort of (but not really) resembles Margaret Drabble. She was unimpressed with the shitty poems about moldy tangerines and bad college boyfriends that I, after worrying over a blank page for days, invariably slapped together at the last minute. I learned that I am not a poet. It was a relief to both of us when I dropped the class.
Greger has a poem entitled “Writer-in-Residence in Limbo (after Li Po)” in the current New Criterion.