Letter: Poet's defence

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The Independent Online
From Mr David Burnett

Sir: The Poetry Society is reported in today's issue (16 February) to be concerned with what it describes as "vanity" publishing. How can it possibly know and assert that this is the sole or, at least, the predominant motive of authors who publish work at their own expense? Is it not more likely, as well as more charitable, to suppose that such authors are moved by a strong conviction of the worth of their work?

Further, how is it possible today to be certain that such a conviction is misplaced and that such work is nugatory and should therefore be discouraged? In fact, many fine writers such as Proust had to publish work at their own expense, while others such as Blake did so throughout their lives. This does not reflect upon their worth - let alone their vanity - but upon the deficiencies of contemporary critical opinion.

Yours faithfully,

David Burnett


16 February