Sunday, October 12, 2008


Mary Karr got off to a rough start when she took over the WASHINTON POST BOOK WORLD'S column "Poet's Choice," making an egregious factual error that any college student in American Literature would have recognized.  Today she has managed to outdo herself.

In an otherwise unremarkable retrospective on the otherwise remarkable work of poet Bill Knott, Karr recalls a poem of his she first read when she was in high school.  I gather from the context of her comments that she must have been in high school around the same time I was.  The Knott poem was a response to the war in Vietnam:  "The only response / to a child's grave is / to lie down before it and play dead."

But how does Karr begin the sentence in which she reminds us of this poem?

"As American bombs were accidentally killing children . . ."

This is, if anything, worse than the language of "collateral damage."  When American "surgical strikes" rained bombs on Vietnamese targets, the deaths of those on the ground were no accident.


Bill Knott said...

NONE OF THE presses she credits at the end of her piece have the right to grant reprints of any poems of mine! Every copyright has reverted to me——

I AND I ALONE own the goddamn rights to my goddamn poems——

but what irritates me worse than that is that

she does not acknowledge that i have moved my entire catalog of poems to my blog for open free access

and that all my books can be downloaded for FREE as pdfs from lulu——

Bill Knott said...

. . . sorry; i apologize for that outburst . . . i feel ashamed for blurting my injured feelings when

your point about "accidentally" is certainly more important to think about than

my personal aggrudgements——



Aldon Lynn Nielsen said...

nothing to apologize for -- there are few things more annoying than seeing your work copyrighted to somebody who doesn't hold the copyright, especially when you are generously distributing the work free -- readers who would like to avail themselves of Bill Knott's generosity should visit this link:

Bill Knott said...

thanks for your kind words . . .

after some thought about it, i conjecture that "Sun Press" may actually indeed legally retain rights to a book of mine they published in 1977——

presumably they never (Bill Zavatsky the proprietor never) granted me reversion——

if that's so, then like most poets' dealings with publishers, i'm fucked——

Zavatsky himself is a poet, a good poet to my mind,

so i wish he wouldn't do this to me——