Sunday, August 29, 2010

Kent Johnson Redux

The following tastefully italicized passage is Kent Johnson’s comment to my post below. I bring it to the fore for the sake of fairness, and to provide content for his web searches. As part of the fairness doctrine, here is Kent’s further on. While there, check out the cool picture of John Clare (scroll down), who was a sad wonder, and bookmark Latta’s excellent blog.

Found this. I did reply to Towle, which wasn't too hard to do, really. It was posted at Latta's blog a couple days after his letter. You should link, in fairness, to that too!
Anyway, in my introduction to the book (A Question Mark above the Sun) I develop a number of the reasons for the hypothesis of Koch's authorship. Hope you'll get a copy. A couple or three prominent O'Hara scholars have stated their support of the hypothesis's value (which doesn't mean they claim certainty about the poem's authorship--I don't either--just that there are highly unusual circumstances which justify the posing of some questions).
I honestly don't recall the specific exchange you mention above about a "satire," but I do know I had a fairly large number of new epigrams I'd planned to add to a second edition of my book Epigramititis: 118 Living American Poets. I decided to not do it. And I am pretty sure there is one for you there, more admiring, really, than satirical! In any case, it's not accurate to suggest I was trying to "scam" you, whatever it was we were talking about.

It is not (I say in reply) that the issue isn’t of interest, but scholars who are also gadflies are difficult to take seriously. And scholars who are at the center of hoax accusations are hard to trust. I’m not saying that I do not take Kent seriously or that I do not trust him, but I think reasons to doubt him exist. A cloud of ulteriour seems to hang over the man. Regarding his inflamed epigrams, and the friendless email suggesting that I buy his book for reasons of vanity: I stand by my assessment that that was a scam.