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.

Saturday, 10 June 2017

"ARTEMISpoetry (Issue 16, May 2016)"

A 64-page A4 bi-annual journal of women's writing with poetry by Katherine Gallagher, Penelope Shuttle, Isobel Thrilling, Myra Schneider, Ilse Pedler, Moniza Alvi, etc. There's information, interviews and many reviews.

It's published by Second Light Publications, the publishing arm of Second Light network (full membership available for women over 40; associate membership available for women 30-40). It's perhaps the age restriction as much as the gender that affects the content.

In an interview, Myra Schneider writes "cliques dominate the poetry scene and work that's 'fashionable' is often overpraised while many good poets are undervalued. ... such attention as the media gives to poetry is often to work which is clever, abstruse or poor". She doesn't mention the names of these over-praised people. A shame. Later, we read that "I write about the natural world and the environment which greatly concerns me, childhood, relationships, and I feature myth and history". Reading this magazine I think she's not alone in these pre-occupations, which are usually understated. Decent poems, all the same.

Here's all the (potentially) adverse criticism that I could find in the reviews. Note how they're often tempered

  • there are few nuances and little space for alternative interpretations
  • Just occasionally I thought a closing, rounding-off observation detracted from the poem as a whole ... But these are very small criticisms
  • So many of these poems are direct, honest, up-beat with some touches of ruefulness and irony
  • her poems are sometimes a little over-extended
  • This collection may seem in some respects 'straight-down-the-middle' but thoughtfulness and the occasional sharp insight make these poems worthwhile
  • a somewhat dense and hermetic style of writing which takes some getting used to ... the meaning here and there is a shade clotted. The poems are not always released into the lyric freedom which would suit some of the subject matter ... [She] probes and - of course - cannot always resolve big issues. She sometimes used poetic devices, including personification, with a slightly heavy hand. But overall these poems are alive, engaging and interesting
  • These poems approach the world from an acute angle and so risk having little direct appeal to some readers. But modern taste favours poems that are more oblique ... I found some poems over-detailed ... and the subject matter of some poems seemed inconsequential ... But this poet has strengths. ... Some of these poems are a little too contrived and self-consciously 'off-centre'. There, too, little direct feeling to suit a more old-fashioned taste. These are, however, the pet faults and inverted attractions of today

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