Saturday, July 31, 2010


Below are excerpts from a few of the negative notices that greeted my first two or three books. These are just a sample of the bad reviews those volumes received.

To say that I was discouraged and disheartened by these vicious hostile words is to put it mildly. In fact, I was so hurt and crushed that I stopped writing entirely.

How many other fledgling artists have suffered similar injury—generation after generation of new writers at the dawn of their careers, brutally assailed, cut down in their premiere years, felled in their first steps, balked before they'd barely begun, undermined and destroyed by the malicious oppugnacy of critics—

How tragic that young poets should be treated so cruelly!


"[Bill Knott's] poems are so naive that the question of their poetic quality hardly arises. . . . Mr. Knott practices a dead language." —Denis Donoghue, New York Review of Books, May 7, 1970

"[Bill Knott's poems are] typically mindless. . . . He produces only the prototaxis of idiocy. . . . Rumor has it that Knott's habit of giving his birth and terminal dates together originated when he realized he could no longer face the horror of a poetry reading he was scheduled to give."
—Charles Molesworth, Poetry Magazine, May 1972

"[Bill Knott is] malignant."—Christopher Ricks, The Massachusetts Review, Spring 1970

"[Bill Knott's work] consists almost entirely of pointless poems, that say disgusting things. . . . [His poetry is] tasteless . . . and brainless."
—Michael Heffernan, Midwest Quarterly, Summer 1973

"[Bill Knott is] incompetent."
—Alicia Ostriker, Partisan Review (date? 1972?)

"Bill Knott's poems are . . . rhetorical fluff . . . and fake." —Ron Loewinsohn, TriQuarterly, Spring 1970

"Bill Knott should be beaten with a flail."
—Tomaz Salamun, Snow, 1973