Wednesday, 11 December 2019

The joy of reviews

I have periodically reviewed volumes of poetry and, at times, novels, too. It is an honour and a responsibility. The more experience one gains, the greater both the honour and the responsibility become.

The reviewer has to be an aunt or uncle to the child that is the book. He or she has to detect and point out things the parent (author) could not perceive. She or he has to nudge or even lead the book towards a friendly and supportive environment (the right readers). A reviewer needs to flag room for improvement, partly in case there may be future offspring, and partly to demonstrate the delicacies of readerly discretion - that beautiful relationship between the thinking self and somebody else's text.

This week I had the joy on one and the same day to receive two reviews that have been produced by two praiseworthy people. Both reviewers show awareness of the job they are tasked with. Both reviews are humble, knowledgeable, sincerely concerned with poetic detail, and balanced in judgment.

Troy Camplin's review is of Norman Morrissey's and my love books (Tryst, 2012;  Learn the Dance, 2013; Hogsback Hiku, 2013; Simply in Love, 2014; To The Far Horizon, 2015; Love Letters To The Earth, 2016; A Shell Held To The Ear, 2017. It excludes The Only Altar, 2018, as I sent him the books prior to that book's being produced.)

Camplin's appreciation is substantial, of the technical details in two of Norman's and my poems, with reference to his own experience as a poet. His receptiveness, furthermore, to the nuances of voice is enlightening beyond the purely technical - it provides readers with the possibilities of reflecting on gender differences as well as relationship dynamics. It is a joy to me to share with you the link to his review, in the hope that you will treat yourself to a full read

Marike Beyers' review of the latest Ecca book, Staying Hungry, too, models the illuminations, which close reading can bring. Her efforts to communicate these illuminations provide both writers as well as readers with her unique thinking feelings - yes: thinking feelings - whereby you are invited to access the varied poems in the collection. Marike's review is not in the public domain just yet, but I will post it on this blog in the next day or two.


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