I shall be back reviewing pamphlets shortly. I am a very benevolent reviewer. If I have to criticise it is in the ‘umblest terms. I think this is largely due to my up bringing. I was taught never to make fun of anyone. My mother loved ‘The Water Babies’ and was always quoting ‘Mrs Doasyouwouldbedoneby’.  Consequently, I‘ve an over developed sense of empathy.

Sadly my sensibility is in the minority as my own experience being on the receiving end of reviews can testify.   Still as a friend pointed out ‘At least I was reviewed’. I have noticed however that many reviewers take the opportunity to showcase their own writing adopting a cut price Oscar Wilde style or showing off their knowledge with obscure references that have the reader scurrying to the internet to try and understand what they are talking about.

My practice, and this may well be influenced by being an ex teacher, is to praise where deserved and to offer constructive advice.  Instead of focusing on myself I prefer to concentrate on the work I am reviewing, making the author the subject rather than me.

I enjoy the intellectual challenge of analysing the quality of the poet’s style and finding common threads between the poems. Sometimes the work is difficult such as Selima Hill’s recent pamphlet and it takes me some while to get the measure of it. But I get a tremendous sense of achievement once I have done this.

Of course I am aware that bitchy reviews like those notorious theatrical or restaurant reviewers are entertaining for the audience but they are neither kind nor necessarily informative.