Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Don't like the book you're reviewing? Too bad, you'd better praise it anyway.

I join the growing number of people who are quite rightly disgusted and appalled by recent online attacks on Todd Swift, whose review of the new Bloodaxe anthology Identity Parade - which was not a negative review, but did ask important questions about the selection process - has attracted some astonishingly hostile and aggressive reactions.

See the comment threads at Eyewear for examples. There are plenty in the post I link to and in other posts on the same blog, and on Facebook, Twitter etc.

The fact that most of these people know each other in person, and are almost all key players in the book under review makes the whole thing even more disturbing. Would you see such a public and widespread attack being allowed to happen in the film industry, in theatre, even in book reviewing?

What does all this mean for the future of poetry criticism? As Graham Hardie points out on Eyewear: 'it begs the question are we not allowed as editors to express our thoughts and opinions in our publications without fear of reprisals/witch hunts/obnoxious e-mails etc?'


Angela France said...

Well said. The piling on was a very unpleasant spectacle - it needs more people to say this.

Poetry Pleases! said...

Dear Jane

I agreed with absolutely everything you said on Eyewear. I think that a lot of ambitious poets quickly decided that Roddy was far more influential than Todd and so lined up to give Todd a good kicking. I have discovered for myself that as soon as you start telling unpalatable truths about the British Poetry Establishment you suddenly find yourself gagged and bound in cattle class on the Siberian express.

Love from Simon

Steven Waling said...

Couldn't agree more, Jane. Todd has been very patient about this.

Jane Holland said...

Too patient, perhaps.

But, hopefully, drawing attention to it like this will help to prevent it happening again.

P Nolan said...

Hopefully. It seemed like such an insecure kneejerk reaction.