Literary reviews by Tim Love.
Warning: Rather than reviews, these are often notes in preparation for reviews that were never finished, or pleas for help with understanding pieces. See Litref Reviews - a rationale for details.

Monday, 1 July 2002

"Envoi 132", Roger Elkin (ed) (2002)

A magazine, but with 129 packed pages of small print (including 15 pages of reviews and over 6 pages of letters) it's more than a book's worth. Accepted poets usually get at least 2 pages of space. No very big names, though some of the authors have had books/pieces published by Bloodaxe, Flarestack, London Magazine, Iron Press, etc. Recently poets have been encouraged to add supporting prose for their work. It's interesting to see how people have made use of this opportunity. The magazine tends towards poetry which can be explained and whose source is retrievable, so the poets who've provided glosses end up making much of their poetry redundant. Others (frustrated autobiographers?) manage to introduce as much of their life story into the prose as possible - providing much background but no exploration.

The letters section is lively. I like the reviews too - little back-scratching and many quotes. This issue has an extensive judge's report by the ubiquitous Alison Chisholm. The poetry (and indeed the choice of reviewers and judges) shows a preference for level-headed, well-written, non-experimental work. Perhaps with so many poems per issue more variety would help.

Envoi has been going for a long time. It has 100s of subscribers and loses about £1000/year (it has no grant). The unpaid editor often provides comments on rejected poems, which is rather heroic especially since he gets about 20,000 poems a year. A subscription covering 3 issues costs £15 ($40 in US bills) from 44 Rudyard Road, Biddulph Moor, Stoke-on-Trent, ST8 7JN, England.

Here's an alternative review of the same issue by Andrew Jordan in 10th Muse: "Envoi seems to exist in a slightly removed world. Like a factory producing radio valves in an age of transistors, it results in a deep woody tone that does tend to blur the sounds. It has the smell and feel of Bakelite. It reminds me of lino and, like Sunday afternoons in the 1950s, it is too long. It is a house that smells of over cooked cabbage. It brings to mind an image of my father showing me how to clean my shoes in a council house in the early 1960s. These reminscences - chatty and nostalgic - are reassuringly retro but also redundant. They are mostly typical, not specific. It all feels prematurely aged, like someone who got old quick in order to avoid the pensions crash. It is a pair of beige trousers, or an affordable bungalow."

No comments:

Post a Comment