On April 4th, the writing workshop Some People Have Been Unkind was hosted from the Lincoln Road Jai-Alai shop and office. Daisy Fried, poet and poetry reviewer, led the workshop. Over the course of two hours, the group discussed the nature of reviewing and put it into action.
Ms. Fried knows much about the topic of poetry review, having been a contributor to the New Ohio Review, the American Poetry Review and the New York Times. “I wanted to cram a semesters worth of information into this one workshop,” Ms. Fried stated. She came prepared and didn’t shy away from distributing stapled sheets of review excerpts and a collection of basic dos and don’ts.
Attendees read through collections of reviews, from the heedlessly negative to exceptionally positive. The common pitfalls of the poetry review were discussed along with quotes from those who did it best, explaining what makes a review successful.
Participants were then asked to choose one of three poems and craft a flash-review of their own. The recitations that followed served to remedy a good deal of the lingering shyness of the group. Once perspectives were exchanged and reviews compared, the mood was lightened and unified by a suddenly apparent crux of poetry reviewing: there is joy in sharing one’s feelings, taste and criticisms about something important to us.
Daisy highlighted the importance of the review over the ramble: “Get to the poetry,” she said. She was referring to those reviewers whose personal attachments to a piece become superfluous. She looked around our crowded table, visibly frustrated at the thought. “Get to the words on the page. Don’t hop around.” Yes indeed, Ms. Fried; because it's all about the poetry: that simple scrawl of words on the page.