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Thursday, June 17, 2021

A short phone conversation

 I once reviewed a book for a press, prepublication. It wasn't bad, just thin in a few places, as though the author had read only the poet sh/e was studying in the book / dissertation. This was a long time ago, before email, I think. I don't recall the poet or the author of the book, but I think it was for Bucknell. They used to publish everyone's dissertation on Spanish poetry, including mine. I did my normal job, trying to be both rigorous and helpful. The editor of the press called me up one day (this is why I think it was before email) and read to me the highly appreciative letter he had got from the author, how helpful I had been, etc... He just read it to me, I thanked him, and he hung up. I didn't think much about it in years since then, but today I was thinking of a harsh review I wrote about a book on Brines, how I would not do that today. 

I like to think I have always wanted to be both helpful and rigorous. Kronik, Fernández Cifuentes, and a few others were know for harsh book reviews. I've done some myself, but will not in the future. I think such criticism is valid and necessary, but I just don't think anymore that I am the one the needs to do it.    

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