The Dumb Waiter Speaks


"Wouldn't it be easier to change your name to Harold Comedy?"

If America didn't exist, Harold Pinter would have to invent it. The very over playwright last made a splash with an idiotic essay in Granta, famously calling the United States a "'rogue state' of colossal military and economic might" that has "without thought, without pause for reflection, without a moment of doubt, let alone shame, confirmed that it is a fully fledged, award-winning, gold-plated monster… has effectively declared war on the world [and] knows only one language—bombs and death."

I've always wondered whether the irritating inarticulateness of Pinter's characters was a real reflection of the author or an elaborate stylistic effect. (I still think "The Lover" is a pretty funny play.) This morning, the Wall Street Journal gives him space to provide an answer, in an otherwise unenlightening debate with playwright Arnold Wesker. Pinter also pulls off a rare literary feat—reciting an anti-war poem so bad it makes Lawrence Ferlinghetti's "Speak Out" sound like Wilfred Owen by comparison.

NEXT: The Farmers and the Nannies Can Be Friends

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  1. I’ve always wanted to live in a rogue state.

  2. Re antiwar poems:

    I haven’t seen such hilariously bad poetry since I was in high school and had a weird crush for morbid chicks (think black hair and lots of eyeliner) who’d inflict their oeuvre on me during my failed attempts to seem interested and get them to, uh, like me.

    I do hope someone collects it all in a book. It will sit on my shelf alongside Leonard Nimoy’s “Warmed by Love.”

    (I also have a CD of him reciting his poetry over recordings of whale songs – how cool is that?)

  3. I’ve written a poem of my own.

    There was an old man named pinter,
    Who we loved as much as a splinter.
    He hated the Yanks,
    Nasdaq capital and banks,
    So F him.

    Pretty good, huh? If it had anti-war overtones, I bet I could get it published.

  4. I’ve written a poem, too.

    There was an old wanker named Pinter,
    Whom we loved as much as a splinter.
    He hated the Yanks,
    Nasdaq, and the banks,
    So Eff him.

    Pretty good, huh? I bet if it had anti-war nuances, it would get published.

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