Below is a list of publications which currently review UK poetry collections, as suggested by Twitter users who happened to reply to a tweet in which I asked about review venues. The mechanisms by which magazine editors choose books to review will be different as will the styles of books they choose. Although there is crossover in poetry, I reckon the books reviewed by, say, Acumen, will usually be different from those reviewed in, say, Spamzine. Some magazines have a specific remit. Some review very little poetry and often only from the bigger publishers. I imagine also most publishers will make strategic choices about where they think it’s worth sending their books for review.
There are no doubt magazines, both in print and online, missing from this list, but I’m happy to add them if you let me know of any. What use it will be I don’t know, but it is useful for me as a publisher and might be useful for other people too.
The question arose as to whether people read reviews and whether it influences their buying choices. I’m not too bothered about these questions really, although the discussion was interesting. I would like more people to read reviews (and critical writing generally) as much as I’d like people to read more poetry, but they have value for me even if most people can’t be bothered. That said, if reviewers could try their best to write interesting, entertaining and well written reviews – rather than boring, anodyne, or pseudo-academic drivel – that would help to encourage a bigger readership. I don’t see reviews as primarily having a commercial aim though. They are part of a critical conversation that is important in itself, irrespective of what is popular, and I much prefer reading magazines that publish high quality, critical prose alongside poems to those which stick to poems only.
I also don’t much care what authors think of reviews of their books. Reviews aren’t for authors, even if authors are pleased when they get good reviews. The only times I get annoyed is when authors attack mildly critical reviews of their own work on social media, as that has the effect of exerting pressure on honest reviewers to shut up; and I also get perturbed when reviewers take part in hatchet jobs and have obviously approached a book without generosity of spirit – that initial generosity, whether a reviewer ends up liking a book or not, seems to me to be the only legitimate way to approach a book. If you don’t have that before you’ve even opened the book, reviewing is not for you.
Modern Poetry in Translation (translated poetry only)
Painted, Spoken (forthcoming, 2021)
Sabotage Reviews (pamphlets, anthologies, collaborations)