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?