The Acid Tongue
Craig Raine rains on Derek Walcott's parade
Selected By Toh Hsien Min
This one is a little dated, being from Issue Two of Arete Magazine, but still good. It's appropriate, in fact, for Craig Raine to kick off this series, meant to stimulate more aggressive and more acerbic criticism in Singapore, because Raine is the joint-top curmudgeon of English letters (together with Tom Paulin), and because this section was inspired by a column in Arete called Our Bold, in which Craig Raine attacks everybody and anybody who participates in English letters with less than good sense. According to him at any rate.
Raine originally starts off mildly, by his standards, but then gets into gear with:
Kudos to the self-parodying awkwardness of syntax in that first sentence.
In the same article, Raine points out, with quite trenchant observation if with quotation necessarily dull by dint of its subject matter, a lot of Walcott's repetitions ("Is it indolence, or inadvertence, or pure incompetence?"), but his description of Walcott's extended metaphors is almost a classic:
Bring on the Colemanballs!
There's a fantastic bit on the sex in Omeros (Go read the original review! It's too long to reproduce...), but then we get to this:
And as for proof that Raine doesn't like Walcott? Not his statements elsewhere, e.g. "[in Derek Walcott's hands] Homer is coma". Not his carrying on the attack in an Our Bold in Issue Three of Arete. But the fact that this collection of Walcott's deficiencies occurs in an article that was supposed to be a review of Walcott's biography by Bruce King!QLRS Beta Issue