Monday, 12 September 2011

Small press review sites

If only everyone who wrote poems bought them too. But here I want to make a different plea - if only people who read small-press publications (especially poetry) reviewed them too. By "review" I include little write-ups in a blog as well as printed articles.

Even if only a few per cent of people put their reviews online, the reader/writer balance would change, and small-press publications would receive more attention. On-line magazines tend not to have a reviews section, and the paper-based literary magazines that do print reviews (Acumen, for example) don't put them online.

When I put write-ups online nowadays I try to add links to online reviews. It's disappointing how few there are, even for publications by bigger presses (e.g. Bloodaxe). And quite often the personal reviews are full of praise. Some bloggers do take this side of things seriously, writing about books they don't like as well as those they do, using "review" as a blog keyword so that the reviews can easily be found. And there are review sites where a small group of people post reviews. Here's a list of sites worth a look if you want to find reviews of UK small-press pamphlets and books - contributions welcomed

Charles E. May's recent blog post on why he didn't review Valerie Trueblood's book makes interesting reading.


  1. I feel a bit guilty seeing my name up here because I review far more books by traditional publishers than anything else and although I write quite a few articles about poetry I don’t actually review many poetry books. I don’t actually get offered that many books by independent publishers and some of the ones I have reviewed are books I’ve bought myself. Time is the real enemy. If you’re going to do a proper review you can’t just rattle off a few hundred words in an afternoon and hope to get it right especially when it comes to poetry which I make no bones about I find hard work; decent poetry reviews are hard to come by. You have to be in the right frame of mind just to read poetry and of late I’ve been so busy that often I just can’t get my head into it. I met my daughter for lunch in Glasgow last week and so I thought this would be a good opportunity to catch up on some poetry. As it happens I took your pamphlet along with me. The journey there was okay – I read half of it – but on the way back people were talking loudly at the back of the bus and I couldn’t filter them out. Still that’s half of it read. That’s a start.

  2. "Time is the real enemy" - I guess so, and you've no reason to feel guilty. But I don't think the bar needs to be set discouragingly high - there's a place for short comments as well as essay/reviews. I scribble notes on a bookmark as I read. Sometimes my write-ups are little more than those scribbles. Alone, they amount to little, but several people's scribbles could add up to quite a lot, and the web makes it easy to do the adding.