I have had one guiding principle when it comes to writing about poetry: whether the poet is well known or not, I want to explain why he or she should be read. According to my poetic values, which I hope become clear as I discuss a particular book, I want to explain to my readers why they should take the work seriously. If it’s a poet who is relatively obscure, I want folks to know why he or she deserves more attention. Above all else, I would like to help my readers discover how and why the work is smart, provocative, moving, consoling, visionary, and beautiful.
My plan, then, is to write a review of a relatively new book of poems once every couple of weeks, or more often if I’m feeling inspired. Once in a while I will invite a friend to a review a book here too. And speaking of friends, I’m going to be honest: I have quite a few friends who are active poets whose work I admire—indeed, in many instances they’ve become my friends because they have written work I admire—and I’m going to review them here. But it will not be praise alone I offer, because I want to analyze and evaluate the work which moves me, the work that I value not only as a reader, but as a fellow poet too.
Therefore, do not look for a lot of hatchet jobs on this blog. Sometimes I’ve seen the point of writing a negative review in order to question an inflated reputation (the Emperor’s New Clothes, if you will). I’ve never been an especially confrontational critic: I would rather let that reputation deflate on its own, as it usually does. But if you follow along with me, you will soon learn about the sorts of poetry I most admire.
Thanks for your attention!