My recent post ‘The Value of Poetry Critique/Criticism’ encouraged some interesting debate and has had me thinking more and more about the role of poetry reviews.
In that post I said that I felt poetry reviews had become less rigorous and were now used more as a marketing tool, which begs the question, why write them at all? If all a review does is raise awareness of the book/poet, then surely it has failed in its purpose. Wouldn’t a list of recently published titles with samples of the poetry in each collection do that job so much better (in fact, that makes me think that it would be great if there was one site/place where all Australian publishers and self-publishers could post this type of information. Hmmm…)?
Don Share’s post on Harriet (a blog from the poetry foundation), I Hate Poetry … Reviews? raises some other interesting points and provides an excellent link to George Orwell’s article, Confessions of Book Reviewer. This is a brilliant read; his portrait of the book reviewer made me laugh until it hurt, and he goes on to offer an interesting solution to the reviewing debate:
“The best practice, it has always seemed to me, would be simply to ignore the great majority of books and to give very long reviews–1,000 words is a bare minimum–to the few that seem to matter… but the usual middle-length review of about 600 words is bound to be worthless …”
And while this has a lot of merit, particularly the 1000 words as a bare minimum for a review, who decides which books matter? There are no easy answers …
Love to hear what you make of it all.