Tuesday, May 5, 2009
Poetry Pundits Speak: The State of Poetry Book Reviews
What’s the value of poetry book reviews, to readers or writers or reviewers? And what’s the current condition of poetry book reviews? Good? Bad? Helpful? A joke? Same as it ever was? Worse than ever before? Who cares?
The first issue of Mayday Magazine has a roundtable on the issue of the poetry review, organized and headlined by the inimitable Kent Johnson and featuring a cast of poetry pundits and talking heads, myself included. No plans for our own Sunday morning television show just yet though.
Leaving aside the transparent ironies and decidedly small-c chuckles to be found in the idea of reviewing the reviewers (although “critiquing the reviewers” is perhaps more accurate), with luck the discussion will highlight concerns about the current state of discussion about poetry that are worth considering.
For the moment I’ve said what I have to on the subject in my response to the open letter with which Kent begins the discussion, but I’d love to hear your thoughts on the issue. Why do you read poetry reviews, if you do, and what do you want out of them? And do you like what you're currently getting out of them?