Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Back in New York

Welcome home everybody. Hope the flights weren't too bumpy.

Just want to address a comment that was made on the post below about the fact that I said, during the NBCC panel, that I don't think friends reviewing frieds' books is really a big deal.

First, know that in my work at PW, I do everything I can to ensure that the reviews I run are fair.

In my own reviewing work, however, and in the reviews I read, I'm not convinced that friends or aquantances reviewing each other is really at the heart of any of poetry's problems. Friendship with a poet doesn't promise that a reviewer will be unduly hard or easy on their book. That's up to the reviewer. And, anyway, reviwers should not be in the business of simply praising or condemning books of poems. There's got to be something more at stake there, some argument to be made about what poems should or shouldn't, or do or don't do, and if a friend's book is the best example, so be it.

That said, if a reviewer is assigned a book by an editor under the supposition that the review will be "unbiased" perhaps that reviewer should come clean. I just don't believe that any review is unbiased. I think there are other problems--like taking the risk of saying something more than superficial about a book--to be dealt with.

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