There are plenty of English poets that I just don't like, but Craig Raine is the only one that I have personal-type beef with.
For those who don't know, Raine is described in Wikipedia as 'the best-known proponent of Martian Poetry'.
His long poem 'History The Home Movie' is a book so exquisitely bad that it has its own section in secondhand bookshops, next to 'History'.
He once wrote a poem called 'Arsehole', about his wife's arsehole. The first verse goes like this:
It is shy as a gathered eyelet
neatly worked in shrinking violet;
it is the dilating iris, tucked
away, a tightening throb when fucked.
Funnily enough, if you put "Craig Raine Arsehole" into Google you get this picture:
So imagine my delight on discovering that Raine has been employed by former KGB man Alexander Lebedev to add an air of literary gravitas to to everyone's favourite right-wing daily, The London Evening Standard. This is ironic, given that Raine's wife, presumed owner of the lyrically fibrillating arsehole, is Anne Pasternak Slater, neice of Boris Pasternak, author of Dr. Zhivago an excellent book suppressed for many years by everyone's favourite agents of socialist terror, the KGB.
His first piece (I presume it is just the first since it's not about anything terribly current, so it looks and reads like they've just said, go ahead and write whatever you like) an essay on Jeff Koons and high art appeared about a week ago. It's a hijacking of of Koons's work that allows Raine to push his three ideas and contains examples of writing that are Rainian beyond parody:
Koons is true to the coruscating wattage of flowers and will not, apparently, admit the obverse — those same petals anointed with rust and decay. We are used to the ironies of modernism, its sceptical interrogation of romantic feelings, but Koons is part of a tradition that goes back to the Renaissance, back to Michelangelo's drawings of “ideal heads”, a tradition that admits selection and improvement, a poetic treatment of reality.
All I can say about it is that if you've ever written something, and then woken in the night and been overtaken by a subtle dread and felt exposed and embarrassed, and thought that maybe what you'd written, despite everything, really had sounded pretentious after all, and then wished that you could take it back, only it's out there irrevocably in print, so maybe you'd ended up knotting the duvet in your toes and secretly promised to yourself just to stop trying to attract attention to your ideas and resolved to from now on be an ordinary working stiff, you really should read this article.
Raine is co-editor of a literary magazine, that should be called Arrête!