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Reviews and The Sparks

I was talking with the poet Conor O'Callaghan the other week about the dwindling number of poetry reviews published these days, particularly by the bigger publications and magazines. When his first full collection, The History of Rain, came out in 1993 with Ireland's Gallery Press, it apparently received around 25 reviews; I sincerely doubt many first books - even those published by the commercial presses - receive that kind of critical attention nowadays.

Unsurprisingly, poetry pamphlets and chapbooks (or short collections) receive even less attention from print magazines, with the notable and admirable exception of a few, particularly Poetry London and its autumn round-up of their 'top ten' (or so) pamphlets of the year. Increasingly then, much reviewing of poetry seems to take place online, in magazines like those I mentioned here recently, and on various widely-read literary blogs. And why not? Many of these blog writers are published poets and reviewers for print and online magazines themselves (myself included), so the blog is the perfect vehicle for reviewing books and pamphlets that print magazines don't have the room for.

One such writer is Tony Williams, a poet soon to have his first collection published by Salt, who also keeps a poetry blog featuring occasional reviews. And I was delighted to discover recently that he's written a generous and insightful review of my pamphlet The Sparks, the second to appear this year, on the back of Noel Williams' piece in arts magazine Now Then. Williams' review also takes in Matthew Clegg's sequence pamphlet Edgelands, published last year by Longbarrow Press. Worth checking out.