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Saturday, June 25, 2005

Death of Rhubarb

I'm sad to see that Rhubarb Is Susan is suspending new reviews of poems. This site, where reviewer Simon DeDeo provides close readings of individual poems culled from various journals, helps to fill the void of poetry reviewing in a unique way. By dealing with individual poems, the reviewer explored theory, practice and craft in poetry to a depth seldom found in poetry book reviews. Most book reviews seem little more than blurbs, even in the venerable (and still creakily old-fashioned) Poetry, whose reviews continue to be a backslapping fest with a handful of high profile presses and poets.

Poetry book reviewing is all but nonexistent in most poetry magazines, so Rhubarb filled an important need: to offer the opportunity for thinking about the current practice of poetry and contemporary poets in a broader way than simply presenting poems or hyping books. Not that I'm against hyping books -- I have a book I'd be happy for a reviewer to praise! But it's pretty evident, even without Dana Gioia's book, that there's a dearth of poetry critique. Perhaps because of the dearth of serious poetry readers? (We're all too busy cribbing from one another for our next poem to think and write analytically, except for Helen Vendler, who has no new poems to write.)

So who's going to start the next Rhubarb Is Susan?
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