I was at this bar once with a bunch of English professors when one professor suddenly suggested we all confess our literary sins. We should admit what great books we dislike.
He started by admitting that he had never read Moby Dick, nor did he ever want to. He had, in fact, taught it once.
Another said he despised Henry James so much, he had suggested the students to read Cliff Notes instead. This was at a college where Cliff Notes were not allowed.
A third one said he didn't care for contemporary American poetry. It's too sloppy, too undefined, too anything goes.
Have you read much of it? the others asked.
No, he admitted. I don't read what I don't like.
How can you do that and be an English professor? I asked. Everyone laughed.
I noticed suddenly that no one wanted to confess anymore. I didn't want to join in with my dislike of Sylvia Plath. I know, as a woman poet of my generation, I am supposed to love her, but I am allergic to her voice.
There was a heavy weight in the air just then, like the ghosts of the unmentioned dead were waiting behind our chairs, listening for their names to be called. I could almost see Sylvia watching me, twirling her long blonde hair.
AWP in Minneapolis, and recommended reading
2 weeks ago