so a few posts ago, i wrote this:
“it’s interesting that the whining bitching and moaning all started with some ‘white’ poet named jason guriel reviewing 3 other white poets and then another ‘white’ poet, kent johnson, responding and asking many other ‘white’ poets to respond. ok ok, i dont mean to flatten all their responses or racialized experiences, but seriously none of these people really explore why the majority of reviews written are reviews of ‘white’ poets! why is that? Unlike most journals, Galatea & Latino Poetry Review provide ample reviews of ‘ethnic’ poets.”
at the poetry foundation harriet blog, don share wrote a great post titled “i hate poetry reviews”.
there was something about a dead horse and he quoted a bunch of ‘white’ people talking about reviews and i think the horse lived in the end. who knows, but no one quoted discussed race & book reviews–or did i miss it? anyhoo, share quoted the passage i wrote above in the comments in relation to francisco aragon’s sharp comment:
“The only two cents I would add to this topic, which is often overlooked, is the phenomena whereby—by design or otherwise—books of poetry from a particular community are met with silence: that is: no review at all. If we think of the book review sections of journals as time capsules of sorts, I think the least we could aspire to is to present an accurate snapshot of the kinds of poetry being written in any particular period—both the good and less good. Who decides to take on the various roles this task requires is another story. Bottom line, in my view: the more various the landscape the better.”
one of my favorite people in the world, kent johnson, commented on my comment:
Just noticing this. It’s not true that the list of responders is completely “white.” Granted, only three “non-white” poets out of 32 is not exactly diverse. And the gender mix could also have been a lot stronger.
But for what it’s worth, the list of poets I initially queried was much more diverse than how things ended up. I was operating under a deadline and without much time. For whatever reason, most of the “No thank you’s” or no-responses were from women (a good dozen), and at least three of them were from Latino poets.”
kent is quite right, i wrote “many” and not “completely.” and, of course, it’s not the editor/curator’s fault that people decide not to respond. i was just commenting on the end-product and a glaring absence in the dialogue.
Q: so why is there such a scarcity of reviews of poetry books by writers of color?
are presses that publish ethnic writers sending review copies?
are writers of color sending review copies?
are editors assigning reviews of books by ethnic writers?
are freelance reviewers actively following new books by ethnic writers?