TELEVISION . . . THE LANGUAGE OF LIFE

  • Share
  • Read Later
Bill Moyers' new eight-week PBS series is an earnest look at poetry in America. Maybe too earnest, says TIME critic Brad Leithauser, and a bit superficial as well in its examination of the contemporary scene. The series makes no attempt to place poetry in the larger social context -- what it's like to try to make a living as a poet is never discussed. Much of the fault lies in Moyers' decision to play the wide-eyed interviewer at every turn. The result is a series of interviews that promotes the least attractive traits of today's poetry: its solemn exhibitionism, squishy mysticism and self-absorption. What we are left with, says Leithauser, is "the poem as self-therapy, and the poetry reading as a blend of A.A. meeting and encounter-group session."