To illustrate his point, Krup quotes a 1931 New Yorker review by Dorothy Parker of Theodore Dreiser:
I am unable to feel that a writer can be complete without humor. And I don’t mean by that, and you know it perfectly well, the creation or the appreciation of things comic. I mean that the possession of a sense of humor entails the sense of selection, the civilized fear of going too far. A little humor leavens the lump, surely, but it does more than that. It keeps you, from your respect for the humor of others, from making a dull jackass of yourself.
Find Patrick Krup's blog here.
I decided some years ago that I wanted to write poetry criticism as well as poetry. Life, of course, caught up with me in the form of several children. Then poetry had its way too, even though I'd assumed by then that it had finished with me for good.
But things are beginning to open out for me again, and people everywhere seem to be discussing the role of the critic, and talking seriously about criticism again, after several decades of not really bothering much about it, as though criticism was poetry's embarrassing second cousin, the one who's never invited to those lavish family get-togethers at Christmas but might find a box of anonymous hand-me-downs on the doorstep every now and then.
Maybe 2009 will be a year of critical writing for me. If so, I have just the right project in mind. Where, fingers crossed, I shall not make 'a dull jackass' of myself. Assuming I can help it, that is.