Just as I'm committed to publishing positive reviews of the new books of verse that I most enjoy here on Rogue Strands, all with the aim of helping them find a wider readership, so I'm also aware that poetry blogging and reviewing can adopt many different but equally valid approaches. One such example is Dave Poems, run by Dave Coates.
I've been reading his blog since 2011,
initially intrigued by his use of a disclaimer at the beginning of
each review, in which he states any prejudices or connections with
the poet in question. I've always found the posts a maelstrom,
especially the earliest ones. They were daring, provocative,
forthright, sometimes a car crash and sometimes extremely perceptive.
Above all, they were the work of someone who was wrestling with his
own views of poetry.
To write and offer up such reviews for
public consumption takes a lot of guts. Moreover, as time has gone by
and Coates' work has evolved, he hasn't hastily removed those first
articles. Instead, he's done an excellent job of placing them into a
personal and general context, recently publishing a remarkable
retrospective post on his first fifty reviews.
In the afore-mentioned piece, Coates
encourages “the understanding that negative criticism is not a
personal attack, and that personal attacks are not good criticism.”
In other words, he might now be choosing his words with greater
awareness of their consequences and the potential for personal hurt,
but that won't stop him criticising or praising poetry as he sees
Dave Poems is already a terrific
blog. The coming months and years, however, promise even more. I know
Coates' views are going to challenge my preconceptions, and that's
invariably a good thing!
And one more wader from Minsmere, the eternally nervy Redshank, although this one laid off with the alarm calls for a while to preen and sleep on a fence...