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Monday, 3 May 2010

Another Review

Warning: this post is about Todd Swift's recent collection, Mainstream Love Hotel. It is a self-serving notice of a very positive review in the April/May 2010 issue of London Magazine, by Leah Fritz. It is being posted in order to interest readers in the collection, in the hopes that some might seek out the book, to read it, even buy it.

If this act is suspect, or even considered downright bad, consider the following: what are poets doing when they a) read their books at launches and book signings; publish their poems? What are publishers doing when they a) send books for review; market books; sell books in shops and online; enter books in competitions? The motives of authors and publishers are complex, and cannot all be boiled down to the purely virtuous act of distributing literary material freely, for the sake of education, enlightenment and entertainment.

Poets, and publishers, both want a) their books to be read; and b) their books to be borrowed or sold. This may be insane or misguided, because a) what does it matter if another person other than you (the author) reads your work and b) how much money can you really possibly make from selling poetry to the masses? Do poets seek to have their poems achieve influence, or become loved and memorised? Do poets want their books to be in print or out of print or never published?

Anyway, this particular London Magazine review is quite good. I was pleased with it, because I admire Leah Fritz, as a poet, person, and thinker. She starts the review by saying her old friend, now deceased, John Heath-Stubbs, liked when she read him my poems out loud (he was blind by this stage). She calls my New and Selected a "poetic find". She observes of MLH that: "at the core of his poetry, however, is conjugal love. Very rare, this kind of romanticism; very honest and elegant in its portrayal."

Fritz also discussed my debt to psychoanalysis, my interest in film, and the poetry's "typically fine, craftily compressed lines."She writes (about a poem that refers to "kind kitchen-sink abortionists") - "outrageous at times and sometimes very angry at the world's injustices, his poetry is often sweet, though never saccharine" - and concludes that "Todd Swift's postmodernism artfully bridges the past and present millennia."
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