Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Got crit?

Got crit?

Everyone does. No poet reads a book of poetry and just says to herself, “huh.” But few of us write down our responses in any literary form. Few magazines carry poetry book reviews. One suspects few readers read them.

Why the apathy? Maybe because poetry book reviewing is stuck in an academic rut that induces alpha waves in the brain. The essay by Rigoberto Gonzales at Poetry Foundation website on poetry reviewing, an alternate approach, is worth a look. Poetry zine editors, take note! If poetry reviews were as interesting as poems, perhaps you’d be more interested in publishing them, and we’d be more interested in reading them.

Gonzales’ essay at Poetry

I love reading a good poetry book review, one that gets into the mind of the poet as well as dissecting the work on the page. I can read Helen Vendler on dead poets for a poetry vivissection lesson, but to hear about what real living poets are up to can be a breathtaking kind of cross between soap opera and lit-gossip that just fascinates me. I also like the reviews that quote heavily from the book and have very subjective reader responses. It helps me decide on books to buy. As I don’t teach, that’s what I read book reviews for.

So how about more zines that publish reviews I can use?

And how about we each undertake one passionate, very personal book review in the next month?


  1. Good article and link, Rachel!
    My conscience is clear, LOL

  2. Loch Raven Review does poetry book reviews. The Avatar Review does poetry book reviews.
    Is Perihelion still providing reviews?
    Doesn't 5_Trope still review poetry books?
    Jack Foley still review for Alsop Review?
    In print there's The Atlantic, right? Beloit Poetry Journal, too? Lots of other I imagine. MIssissippi Review?

    That's off the top of my head. I suppose I could do a google search and find 35-40 online and print journals that review poetry books. But most of 'em would be related to some university or other and would only be reviewing to further the interests of their own writing programs.

    At the same time there are articles on the decline of the newspaper book review section there are complaints of not enough reviewing of anything except, maybe, movies. It's odd. People worry about the lack of reviews but don't read the ones that are available and won't write any. They'll request others do the reviewing and complain about the state of the art, but that's about it. It's very strange.