Friday, 21 December 2012

Bitch reviews

It is so tempting isn't it? Using a review to promote yourself or score a point or worse...

It isn't new either. The bitch review has been in existence as long as writers. Walter Scott had a long-standing hatred of his antagonistic reviewer Francis Jeffrey in the Edinburgh Review. Even going so far as to publish himself anonymously in a different series of novels against his own already anonymous works to escape what he felt was a personal antipathy.

p&g was minded of the bitch review when reading a recent UK Times newspaper poetry critique. It concerned the new title Stag's Leap by Sharon Olds. I suppose the tone is set in the opening line:

"Sharon Olds (b1942) is the leading ­contemporary exponent of the “confessional” mode in American poetry..."

Goodness me! Twenty years ago when I was studying poetry at Ohio State University Sharon Olds was already known as a leading American poet. Period.

The reviewer goes on to pull apart her work in a patronising way that suggests she doesn't know how to string a line together. Odd. Sometime poets work like that in my opinion. Anti-structure. Not a stanza crime just a technique.

Anyway you can see what you make of it here (afraid you have to log in...)

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