Hopelessly Confused

To the Editor,

I was pleased to see a review of Arthur Sze's Redshifting Web in the Tucson Weekly (August 6), but found David Penn's writing hopelessly confused and uninformed. Penn states that "Sze's poems are visionary in much the same way that the debauched articulations of Arthur Rimbaud's Illuminations are visionary," but doesn't state what this "visionary" connection is. Debauchery? How are Rimbaud's articulations "debauched," and how does this pertain to Sze?

Mailbag Penn says, "Sze revels less in the scatological seam of humanity," but doesn't complete his thought: less than what? St. Augustine? Rimbaud? His reductive definition of the scatological as "the revelation...that our animal nature is largely reproductive and excretory" is naive and pedestrian, and misses the point of both Verlaine and Eshleman. The phrase "inherent 'thingness' " is a cliché that tells me nothing about Sze's "best poems," let alone "things", and I fail to see how the quote about "red dragonflies" and "dancers" is an example of "eternal return...in which essence is communicated." What is eternally returning here? What "essence" is communicated in dragonflies "mating above the cattails" and dancers "throwing licorice"?

Penn's critique of the "confessionalist counter-revolution" and "affirmation" poetry is valuable, especially given the continuing legacy of insipid confessionalism and "feel good" tripe rampant in contemporary American poetry. But Penn sends mixed signals: his Puritanical and reductive comments about the scatological assert the very conservative, ego-insulated confessionalism and cleansed Judeo-Christian vision of "our animal nature" that he admonishes; his attack on poetry's "infatuation with the power of creative language" is later extolled in Sze's work as "inherent 'thingness' " and "experience in itself, for itself" (i.e., "affirmation"). With comments like these, what "revolution" does Penn have in mind?

--Dan Featherston

Off Put

To the Editor,

Good for Jeff Smith, who unapologetically extols the joys of shooting, and congratulations to him for his success with black powder. You're right, Jeff: Liberal gun-owners are made to feel like Republican pro-choice advocates and gay conservatives. The prissy pseudo-know-it-alls, who arrogantly pontificate how enlightened they are, pretend that bigotry and stereotyping are just awful--unless they're the ones doing the stereotyping about gun owners. And you're also right that the vicious violent criminals keep on hoping that such easy prey stay unarmed.

But one apology in Smith's article was definitely not called for, and that was where he said, "...than I presently prefer to burden myself with. Pardon the preposition." No, no, no! In English, ending a sentence with a preposition is not wrong, and it never was, despite all the strident tut-tutting from superficially educated schoolmarms of both genders. English is one of the German languages, with its own rules of grammar which have nothing to do with the Latin languages--Latin, Italian, French, Portuguese, Romanian, Spanish. In Latin, there are some circumstances where a preposition must not "dangle," and some fussy (but wrong) 18th-century grammarians erroneously tried applying that maxim to English. Contemporary English teachers who still teach that crap should be made to take remedial classes in the Germanic roots of English and its grammar before they get another paycheck.

Not only is ending a sentence with a preposition not wrong and never was, but also not doing so results in such preposterous examples as, "I don't know up where she will end," and "It's the most curious book across which I've ever run." Winston Churchill, a lover of good, flowing, vigorous English, said of such spurious grammar "rules": "That is the kind of English up with which I will not put."

Me, too. It really off me pisses.

--Tom Gordon

Ranch Dressing

To the Editor,

Regarding "Give Me Land, Lots Of Land And Sunny Skies Above" (The Skinny, August 6): Please don't "lovely woman" me! The push for the Bellota Ranch purchase has my support as a voter and as a taxpayer. My husband George does not need me to prod him in his political life. He is a person of independence, intelligence, and integrity.

As it happens, no one saw fit to challenge the likely loss of the Bellota wilderness to private development. Convinced that saving it could find consensus among groups who worry about sprawl, destruction of natural habitat and opportunities for everyone to enjoy open space, George gathered these Tucsonans together to initiate public purchase of the property. Note that if the Bellota is pushed into the projected development, it is slated to be broken into 160-acre parcels with the inevitable no trespassing signs; exclusive reserves for the super wealthy.

While you toy with "conspiracy theory," please don't hesitate to check out the Miller Conspiracy and the Sign Code, the Miller Conspiracy and the Mayor's Task Force on Domestic Violence, the Miller Conspiracy and the Mayor's Task Force on Youth Violence, the Miller Conspiracy and advocacy of children's programs, job training, equal opportunity, civil rights, etc. etc.

This "lovely woman" has enough to do without "driving" the Mayor to take the road he is already traveling.

--Roslyn Miller

Unnecessary Slams

To the Editor,

I have been rather disheartened in recent weeks to see two unnecessary slams against Oriental races, first in Emil Franzi's column about the American economy ("Rutabaga 101," July 23), and then in Tim Vanderpool's article about Caroline Gilbert's medical plight ("Northern Exposure," July 30).

Franzi's reference to the U.S. victory over the Japanese in World War II, while certainly a historical fact, had little relevance to his argument. Pointing to their defeat 50 years ago is no more supportive proof of their economic incompetence than the U.S. defeat in Vietnam 25 years ago is supportive proof of our economic incompetence during the recessions of the 1980s. In effect, Franzi was saying, "We beat that race back then, we should have known better than to think they would know how to run an economy now." The flaws in the Japanese economy had and have little to do with losing in World War II, and Franzi's argument against their model would have been stronger had he avoided reactionary rhetoric.

In Vanderpool's article, explaining the presence of hepatitis obviously was necessary; referring to it as "Asian-generated crap" was not, especially because he used less-inflammatory language elsewhere in the article. Whether or not any slur was intended, that phrase implies the Asians were in some small way culpable in Gilbert's contraction of hepatitis.

I do not believe the writers are racist, or even intended to be insulting. All I am asking is that you pay more attention to the phrases you use. Insulting language against races tangential to an argument or story only serves to distract from the overall piece.

--Deron Overpeck

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