in his blog yesterday, Marcus wrote a very interesting entry about reviews. i thought i’d just stick my oar in ...
i don't see the point of harsh reviews in poetry. for one thing, those who writes harsh reviews often seem to have a bias, for example they may dislike experimental poetry and often with no background as readers of it or its theory. they judge based on the same criteria they use for narrative poetry.
the general public doesn't give a rat's ass about poetry. so if the only thing they ever hear about it is how bad it is, it doesn't make them buy poetry for themselves or anyone else. perhaps if they heard about the great poetry out there, maybe a few people might actually be convinced to buy it, but with poets turning on each other like a pack of wild beasts, that doesn't happen.
if people who wrote within a particular sub-genre would do critical reviews of one another's work, that would be interesting. they have the knowledge and background to really understand what the writer is trying to do with a particular work, but of course the literary world is so incestuous, when someone does do a review of another person's work within the same narrow sub-genre, it is considered a form of nepotism and not taken seriously.
there are always biases in poetry reviews. and having harsh reviews doesn't show objectivity nor give the reading public, whoever they might be, the opportunity to make an informed decision based on an objective review. there are no objective reviews and there are no objective reviewers.
i am in favour of promotion rather than reviews. i think that's what we need more of and that's what i do.