To Whom it May Concern:

I am writing to respond, albeit belatedly, to Lolita Lark's contemptuous review of Jorie Graham's latest book, Swarm.

After reading Lark's puerile, off-the-cuff responses to other (better?) reviewers' opinions of the book (which she calls, unaccountably, a "booklet") it became clear to me that the reviewer was far more interested in her own cleverness and ability to dash off a few zingers than in forming a thoughtful, careful, and mature opinion of the poetry.

If she had taken the time to do this --- and to consider the book on its own terms, rather than those of Graham's previous reviewers --- I suspect she may have found that this book was worth her consideration, and then some.

As it is, Lark engages in the worst form of literary sycophancy: paying more attention to what's said about a work than to what the work itself says.

Jorie Graham is one of the most interesting --- and innovative --- poets writing today, and while those who are unprepared to find value beyond the familiar and canonical might encounter her with the same fear and loathing that Lark does, those of us who are truly invested in the growth and vitality of poetry encounter her with gratitude and respect.

And finally, I recommend acquiring the good sense not to judge a writer's --- or anyone's --- pedagogical skill while still possessed of an abysmal lack of information about it. Graham is an even better professor of poetry than she is a poet. But perhaps I'm one of those new American writers for whom Lark has, quite unnecessarily, invoked divine aid.

--- Sharon Cournoyer
Department of English and American
Literature and Language
Harvard University

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