New Review of Dots & Dashes!
I’ve said this before, but having a book of poetry published really is a strange animal. It’s not like publishing a novel, which involves the release of the book followed by a brief, intense period of publicity and marketing. If the novel “hits,” then it continues to receive attention and support from a press. If it doesn’t catch on, then the book is quickly relegated to the press’s oh well pile, essentially dismissed by the publisher as not having been the hoped-for success. Obviously there are exceptions to this pattern. But, for the most part, prose has a very short window in which to find its audience, receive attention from reviewers, and to start making money for the publisher.
Poetry has a slower, quieter journey post-publication. A large portion of a poetry collection’s sales depend on the poet doing readings, persuading teachers and professors to assign the text, and hoping for a little bit of publicity, a few reviews. Whenever I have a new book out, I always work closely with my press and with my “mom-ager” (who is a brilliant and fearless promoter of my work). But, I’ve also learned to have modest expectations. There are fewer venues for reviewing poetry collections than there used to be and fewer reviewers as well, because it is difficult, painstaking, time-consuming work to review books.
So, it goes without saying that I was thrilled and very surprised to learn that there’s a new review of Dots & Dashes now up at the Kenyon Review. Here’s a brief excerpt from Vanessa Wells Beeson’s very kind and generous examination of the book:
Here, we see the poem open in a clipped back and forth rhythm that mimics the banter of a marriage locked in the language of the military. Later in the poem we see that language of the military has no shut-off valve. The conversation between husband and wife also functions as a conversation between officer and private; the wife will never have rank, the scales will never be balanced, and there will always be a push/pull of power when the husband returns home.
I love the point that Beeson makes about the wife as a person without rank, pointing to the imbalance of power between military officer and dependent. It’s a very insightful review, and you can read the whole piece here.