12 May 2009

Albert Sbragia

I love it when a literary critic moves from critique to creation, as in this sentence from Albert Sbragia's "The Modern Macaronic": "Language tilts from its centripetal pole to the extremes of centrifugality."

I say to myself when I read a sentence like this, I wish I had written that!

Many times, creative writers think of critics as, well, second-class citizens of the literary world, because critics are always one step behind creative writers. When I advocated critic Bienvenido Lumbera during the deliberations to choose the Philippine National Artists in 2006, I argued not just for Lumbera (who eventually made it to the honor list) but for literary criticism itself as a genre of creative writing. Of course, it is true that there are plenty of literary critics that cannot write, but there are plenty of poets whose so-called poems are, well, garbage, and plenty of novelists that deserve to remain unread. There are a few literary critics that are as good, if not better than the creative writers they write about. At least in that one sentence, Sbragia rocks!

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