I’m now twenty days into the Year of Poetry experiment. I’ve lagged behind a few days, owing to an out-of-state funeral, review deadlines for other magazines, and a few other projects, but I’ve always caught up within a few days. I’ve read some really good books; my favorites, so far: A Time in Xanadu, by Lars Gustafsson, The Scattered Papers of Penelope, by Katerina Anghelaki-Rooke, and Look There, by Agi Mishol. It’s also been nice reading the Poetry Translation Centre/Enitharmon chapbook boxset—I just wish the selections were longer.
Since its initial conception, the experiment has evolved. The first day I realized that 140 characters would not allow for any quotations, which I deem crucial to the quality review. I made the decision to quote 140 characters of verse immediately following their respective 140 character reviews, and I think that those short fragments have interacted interestingly.
The most difficult thing about these reviews is the most obvious: their length. It is difficult in 140 characters to balance the good and bad qualities of any work—especially when that work is for the most part, thus far, good. My reviews sound a little too much like back-cover blurbs, despite my best efforts to achieve balance. Likewise, with the few books I haven’t liked, it’s difficult to do justice to their better qualities, something I think important.
I’ve now announced by next nine titles, and I’m preparing to update the list again soon. Do feel free to comment here or on Twitter, to let me know what you think of the brief reviews, of how they could be improved, and if they’re at all useful.
Thanks for following the Year of Poetry!
David Shook, Editor