“Not Our Kind: the Problem of Book Reviewing Through Tribal Identification”


The above article is worth a read and is self-explanatory. As for the poem which sparked the article (which is linked to from within the piece), from a personal perspective the literary work is not particularly to my taste. However the attacks on the poet, Anders Carlson-Wee), which are detailed in the article, appear to me to constitute a gross over reaction to what he wrote and I must confess to being somewhat surprised by the fulsome apology of the periodical which published it.

The poet subsequently apologised for the poem and was (again” criticised for saying that the comments received where “eye-opening”, the criticism being predicated on the fact that blind people can not see and, therefore the language being construed as “ableist”. As someone who is registered blind I have no problem with the use of terms such as “eye-opening”. Indeed I have used this term myself and also frequently say to friends or acquaintances “see you around”, by which I mean not that I will (literally) see them, but that our paths will cross again.

Ultimately any work of literature should be judged on its literary merits not whether it offends a particular community and/or individual. Writers should not be constantly thinking could what I am writing possibly cause offense? If we go down that road we risk a stilted literary environment in which I don’t wish to live.

3 thoughts on ““Not Our Kind: the Problem of Book Reviewing Through Tribal Identification”

  1. Mick Canning

    I followed the links to both the piece in the Beacon, and then the poem (and the editors’ disgraceful grovel!). I read it a couple of times and thought about both the poem and what I think the poet is trying to say and I agree with you completely, Kevin. Although there are a few openings for those who wake up in the morning and then spend the next 12 hours looking for ways to be offended, if I was the author I would be inclined to say ‘It’s a poem. Get over it.’

    1. drewdog2060drewdog2060 Post author

      Thanks, Mick. I agree with you that the apology of the publication was both disgraceful and grovelling. The incident reminds me of Scott Kelly who apologised for calling Churchill “a great man” due to a social media storm following his comments, https://blogs.spectator.co.uk/2018/10/scott-kelly-was-foolish-to-apologise-for-quoting-winston-churchill/. While Churchill had faults and made mistakes, I agree with Kelly’s initial assessment of the man and don’t believe that he had any reason to apologise.


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