On Book Reviewing

As you can see from this page, I’ve published around 70 book reviews since 2007. When I first start writing book reviews, I had just finished my MFA and I couldn’t afford to buy all the books I wanted to read. So I requested review copies and figured the free book was worth the hour or two it took me to write a 1,000 word review. Plus, I had a much easier time back then finding journals willing to publish my book reviews than finding one willing to publish my poems! So it was a good way to build my publication list. Lastly, writing book reviews made me pay attention to publishers and journals more than ever before.

I always recommend that young poets write and publish book reviews–and it is something I will require in my graduate courses. I only wish more mid-career and older poets would take the time to review younger writers. I also wish the book reviewing culture wasn’t so ethnically and/or aesthetically insular. I do believe that book reviews are very important to creating a healthy book culture–and there are still some great venues for poetry reviews.

I wish I had more time to review. Since I started my new job at U of Hawai’i, my reviewing productivity has plummeted. From 22 reviews in 2007 to 4 in 2011! Fail. I apologize to all those who have sent me books and to all those who have queried.

With all that said, I wanted to point readers to two new omnibus reviews that have recently been published. The first is a review of three books from a single Press:

Zoland Poetry Review (2011 v.2): “Counterpath Press: A Review of Three Books: Beyond the Court Gate: Selected Poems by Nguyen Trai, Incivilities by Barbara Claire Freeman, and The Field is Lethal by Suzanne Doppelt.” 

The second looks at three books by Latino writers:

Kenyon Review Online (Winter 2012): “Racial Profiling: Three First Books by Latino Poets (Brenda Cardenas, Kristin Naca, Paul Martinez Pompa”

Thanks to the editor Chloe Garcia Roberts & Zach Savich for their editorial guidance.

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One thought on “On Book Reviewing

  1. Craig, I’m pretty sure you 4 beats the amount of reviews I managed to do for 2011. Teaching & grading took up A LOT more time than I imagined. Noah Eli Gordon has a bunch of great review sources from a grad class he taught- let me know if you want to look it for your class.

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