Sunday, March 23, 2008

Reviews

A nice piece of news: A lovely new review of my book, What Feeds Us, now appears online at Rattle. The reviewer, Karla Huston, did a terrific job and I am very appreciative! I also say three cheers for Rattle which regularly runs reviews on their website. As all poets know, without some reviews it's difficult to get the word out about our books. I therefore often encourage poets to be reviewers themselves. It just makes sense that if we want to receive reviews we need to be willing to write them. If we don't, then who will?

I've been writing reviews of poetry books for several years. It's a bit time-consuming and it's challenging, but I always feel that it enriches me as a poet. I learn something about poetry from each review I write. And I find that I read much more carefully when I'm writing a review of the book in hand. The close and repeated readings usually make me more appreciative of what the poet has accomplished. I pick up a lot that I missed on the first reading.

If you've been avoiding writing reviews because of time, keep in mind that there are many journals that take very short reviews; you don't have to spend weeks on the review. Some such print journals that come to mind: Mid-American Review, Boston Review, Cider Press Review, and New Letters; and some online journals: Poemeleon, Rain Taxi, Rougarou. In addition to what you'll learn while doing the review, you'll be providing an important service and you'll gain some nice publication credits. Everybody wins; everybody gets a prize.

Another journal I want to mention is Review Revue. This journal has been around for maybe three years. It's a tabloid format, easy to fold up and tuck in your pocket. Easy to read on the train. The journal, which comes out three times a year, is devoted entirely to essays, reviews, and interviews—all about poetry. It's one of the best bargains around at only $12 a year per subscription; even better at $20 for a two-year subscription.

The most recent issue, which arrived just yesterday, contains an interview with Fleda Brown, former poet laureate of Delaware; a review of Brown's new book, Reunion; an essay about Georgia O'Keefe by poet Christopher Buckley; an essay about Mark Strand; a review of two collections from Iris Press by poet Phebe Davidson; and an article of tribute to Jean Pedrick by poet Sebastian Matthews. And there's more. (Notice, please, that several of these articles / reviews are by poets!)

I want to encourage you to support this journal. But I must also encourage the editors to make a strong commitment to getting issues out on time. I know that's a persistent problem that many journals suffer from for a variety of reasons. But RR is always late. Hey, there's even part of an editorial about it in this latest issue. This issue, by the way, is dated December 2007. It's now the end of March. (Also, Editors, if you're going to advise readers at the end of a page "continued on page 8" or "continued on page 19," you really should number the pages!) I'm hopeful that the editor's apology means improvement in the meeting deadlines department. This journal is worth keeping around.

5 comments :

  1. Boston Area Small Press and Poetry Scene http://dougholder.blogspot.com regularly reviews poetry books. Recently we reviewed Mark Doty's "Fire to Fire"

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  2. Hi Doug--Excellent! I think that one of the numerous ways blogs can be put to good use is by posting some reviews. I assume that you're writing the reviews? (I just took a quick look--will return tomorrow for a better look). I knew your name was familiar--I have a poem coming out in the next Ibbetson Street.

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  3. Thanks for this, Diane--I'm always looking for good new journals that concentrate on poetry in some form or another.

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  4. Thanks Diane! I'm trying to put together a list of places that pay for reviews too - don't you think that would be good for us to have?

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  5. Re paying places list--I think Erika Dreifus has such a list, though she may charge for it. You could get some leads, I think, from Duotrope.com which Erika sent me to.

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