23 October 2003

Anthony Lawrence on poetry reviewing:

"Unfortunately, there are people in this country, often other poets, whose reviews are character assassinations wearing the mask of a critical work. This is common. I've experienced it. Many poets have. The Tall Poppy must be taken down. It's often jealous carping and it's always transparent. There's a great need here for good, fearless reviewers. A negative review can not only be a great leveller, it can be positive, if it's the work and the work only that's being attended to. There are things I've learned about my work in a "bad" review that have caused me to reassess how I approach certain things. This is a fine thing. Personally, when another poet publishes a book to critical aclaim, or wins a prize..... these things are to be celebrated. That's not always the case of course. It's said that poets are the most caustic of writers and readers in this country. That's true, but not only in Australia. I can't see things changing. There are thousands of serious poets competing for a very small section of publishing territory. This makes for some serious aggression. Oh well. In the end, all we can do is keep writing."
(Anthonly Lawrence, in an interview with John Kinsella, in Thylacine.)

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