The Poetry Question

Discovering the Relevance of Words

QOTD – April 25 – A Reader of Reviews?

We are gearing up to start our book review section on Monday. The majority of the reviews will be based in the world of poetry chapbooks, and I couldn’t be more excited to really start digging into them as a reviewer first, and reader second. It’s an odd way to think about it, but I have to remember that I need to stray from being a fan of who I’m reading for the review, and make sure that you, our audience, get the most unbiased review possible. I can be excited for something, and still find pieces that don’t match that author’s previous work, or the expectations given for the new book.

When we were doing our music reviews, I think it was easier for me to separate myself from the piece I was reviewing. While music, to many of us, is a lifeline, I really believe that we can disassociate ourselves from the experience more so than we can with poetry. Poetry, at least to me, feels more visceral, more immediate, more directed toward the reader. Maybe it’s because it’s just you and the piece – especially when reading it. You can’t be doing multiple things while reading. Music can drift into the background, but you actually have to read the words on the page to know what they are saying.

Over the last several months, I’ve found myself as an avid reader of reviews. Some of that has been knowing that we were going to start moving toward reviews ourselves, but the other part is that I really want someone else’s opinion on the piece. It’s almost like having a conversation – and frankly, in the Twitter generation, we can actually talk to the reviewer. I’m looking forward to seeing if my reviews are lining up with the rest of the literary world, or how the author views what I have to say, and if anyone engages me in conversation, as I have them.

So, do you read reviews? Do you gauge your reading based on what others have said?

About Christopher Margolin

Chris Margolin spent more than a decade in Education as a high school English teacher, and is now an Instructional Coach for the Longview School District. He is also the founder of The Poetry Question, an online journal which focuses on reviews of small press poetry publications, and runs a regular series called "The Power of Poetry," where notable poets share their personal stories of how poetry has affected their lives. Margolin resides in Vancouver, Washington with his wife, and daughter.

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