15 More Replies to Shivani’s 15 Most Overrated American Writers

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It’s a full blown opera.

And the fat ladies are in full warble.

If you’ve finished your popcorn, then get more.

More replies to Anis Shivani’s 15 Overrated American Writers.


Wikipedia: Sharon Oldes

That has to hurt. Wikipedia keeps it ruthlessly current with an update on the poet’s reputation.

Exemplary Lines: “Negative: Poet and literary critic Anis Shivani:” (…and queue quote from Shivani.)


Leith Literary

There but for the grace of God! It’s all in the footnote. J. Nelson Leith confesses his Near-MFA-Experience or (NME). Pronounced enemy, not enema. Was the MFA program the real victim in Shivani’s article? The military has a new recruiting tool. You want an MFA? Really?

Exemplary Lines: “…in retrospect I am glad to have had years of outward-looking experience in the military and intelligence communities rather than years in a literary Hall of Mirrors.”


Absolute Gentleman

Written by Frank. The first part of Shivani’s article? Frank’s OK with it. The second part?  Two words: Razor burn. But Frank’s got the razor now, and Frank’s not feeling the kumbaya.

Exemplary Lines: “I got over it and saw through his anger to see his points. What helped me get over it was the ridiculous response from those blogging back. The biggest offender was Publishers’ Weekly, which has done more damage to good writers than The Huffington Post ever will.”


The Feminist Texan (Reads)

What does Shivani’s list have in common? The Feminist Texan knows and she doesn’t like it.

Exemplary Lines: “Color me surprised.”


The Measure

You sure you only got four bullets in that shooter? Jonny Diamond picks up where Shivani leaves off. Cover your eyes.

Exemplary Lines: “Of the writers on his list, I haven’t read the following (largely because they’ve always seemed like middle-brow hacks who sell books to Sunday readers)…” (Yikes!)


Fashion, War, and Other Necessities

Show some class! This is how you hit a man with glasses. Got a problem with Shivani’s ‘tude? The Art of War? Read Sun Tzu. The art of criticism? Read this blog.

Exemplary Lines: “And lastly, to declare a poet overrated (i.e. John Ashbery) is odd, considering poets are barely even visible in today’s society beyond the “MFA writing system” Shivani so deliberately discredits.” (Ashbery is just not feeling the love.)


David Maine

I see your Amy Tan and I raise you one. David Maine picks up where Jonny Diamond leaves off.

Exemplary Lines:Sharon Olds — read her a lot in grad school when I was trying to date poets. She writes a lot about, like, sex and her father. Often in the same poem, if you get my drift. I used to like her stuff but haven’t read it in ages. She had a book called Satan Says, which I thought was a killer title for a bunch of poems.”


One Way Street

Déjà vous. Richard Prouty has seen it all before. But does he disagree with Shivani? It’s not whether you win or lose, it’s how you play the game.

Exemplary Lines: “For what it’s worth, I should point out that the emperor is dead. Poststructuralism expired a decade ago.”


Seth Abramson: The Suburban Ecstasies

Does the expression black ball mean anything to you? Get a cup of Joe and a doughnut (maybe two…or three… get the sampler) because this post is War & Peace.  Sure, maybe Shivani made you really, really, really, really… really upset, but put the gun down and let’s talk (before you all prove Shivani’s point).

Exemplary Lines: “This is a clear call, if I’m reading it right — and I’m trying to read it as it was intended, not “spin” it for the purpose of a blog-post — for Anis to be black-listed…”


From Soho to Silo

It’s all fun and games until… Alicia Rebecca Meyers sends Shivani to his room. As for you… yes, you… if you weren’t ashamed of yourself before, you will be now. Put another way: If you don’t feel two feet tall by the end of this post, it’s because you shrunk to one. Go back and re-read What I learned in Kindergarten.

Exemplary Lines: “And Shivani himself is not just a critic, but a poet. We have more than ten Facebook friends in common — which is to say, we are members of the same community.”


My 3,000 Loving Arms

Am I really like that? Sarah Sarai confesses, but it’s not the authors, it’s the concept writing.

Exemplary Lines: “Why can’t we all be friends?”


Puget Sound English Department

Quiet down class. The Puget Sound English Department weighs the pros and cons. Balanced. Considered. Maybe even debonair. It’s a five paragraph essay with a topic sentence and conclusion.

Exemplary Lines: “While Shivani’s selections will no doubt offend many of us (I was a bit taken aback to find a few of my personal favorites on his hit list), he argues, quite convincingly, that many of today’s most acclaimed writers substitute stylistic tics for nuance, solipsism for vision, and topical superficiality for the larger questions–or a greater variety of answers thereto–that have inspired the best authors of yesterday and today.”



Jeffery Berg feels it is necessary to respond. The venue is bad enough but… think Jerry Seinfeld: ‘The Huffingtton Post? Really? The Huffington Post? Really?’ It’s all just such bad taste. Look for words like pettiness, laziness, snarky, toxic. Does he agree with Shivani? That’s besides the point. No love for poets.

Exemplary Lines: “Did he read and fully comprehend the exile and heartbreak in “Mrs. Sen’s” or The Namesake?”


Open Salon

Low hanging fruit. Did the French waste a perfectly good guillotine on the royal cook? No. That’s not how you start a revolution. Ted Burke wants royal blood – Mailer, Updike, Wallace. Ted Burke wants his money back. Shivani is an amateur.

Exemplary Lines: “The Huffington Post squib, alas, was too easy to write, too, too easy to assemble.” (Squib? Ouch. Good word. I’ve got to use that somewhere.)


harriet: a blog from the poetry foundation

America’s multi-million dollar hope for the preservation of poetry weighs in… or do they? Does the expression ten foot pole mean anything to you? When the 900 pound gorilla ducks and runs.

Exemplary Lines: “Here’s what he had to say about Glück…” (…and queue link)

And Shivani himself is not just a critic, but a poet. We have more than ten Facebook friends in common — which is to say, we are members of the same community

3 responses

  1. ‘Mean-spirited,’ jealous, slideshow, 19xx writing, poor writing style, grammar, anti-feminism, “I like Y, so stop abusing Y,” ‘opinions’ are relative … Did I miss anything? I want to read a post that defends the writers (Or writer, I’ll settle for one) against Shivani, not why Shivani should be dismissed; but, I doubt that’ll ever happen, for good reasons, too (There is no justification!).

    If there is any reason to call out Shivani, I think the Missouri Review does it best. The Missouri Review makes a good point that Shivani doesn’t explicate his reasoning, but I think that’s due to intuitional leaps by Shivani that are not caught on. Speaking on ‘lack of moral core’ of a writer, I think it’s safe to say that Shivani expects some sort of core from a writer, etc. etc..

    In any case, who will be the first to barbecue: Ashbery? I hope they add pancake clocks for flavor, as I have no popcorn in the house to eat.


    • Yeah… no love for the poets.

      Everybody is jumping on Shivani but very few are making an effort to defend the authors. Do we wonder why? I’ve got a feeling this is the beginning of the end for Ashbery. That old apple is a summer late.


  2. Pingback: Over Rated

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