Monday, June 4, 2012

The art of full disclosure when writing poetry book reviews.

First, I'll start with a full disclosure of my own: I once had a book published by Lummox Press and was included in an anthology of its Little Red Books series.

G. Murray Thomas, who reviews books for (alongside Eric Morago), knows the proprietor of Lummox and has toured with him in recent months. 

But Murray routinely reviews poetry volumes published by Lummox and even more routinely fails to offer any kind of full disclosure.  This modus operandi has also occurred with books from Write Bloody.  There, the ethical conundrum gets a bit stickier because Derrick Brown's Long Beach-based small press recently offered up the NEWS CLIPS AND EGO TRIPS anthology, based on the NEXT....poetry magazine edited by....G. Murray Thomas.

Once again, I'm aware that a certain segment of the SoCal poetry community views itself as small enough where friends write reviews of each other's books and few people don't care to see this as any kind of an issue.

And I'll give Murray the benefit of the doubt and guess he does his best to be objective when writing reviews of Lummox and Write Bloody offerings.

But, if the poetry community in SoCal wants to trumpet its idealness more convincingly, then it should avoid too many occurrences of even the appearance of conflict of interest.

UPDATE 6/5/12: Heard from Murray privately (sent him comminique via Facebook); essentially, his response is that "most people" know he knows people from local presses and that he's not interested in full disclosure.  Case closed.

1 comment:

  1. So, what's the issue here? That a reviewer does not tell his tenuous connection to the publisher of the book? Jesus, buddy. The poetry world is too f'ing small to pick such nits. I used to review books and, from time to time, I did note a connection, but only when the poet was a good friend of mine. I think this is too "inside baseball" to matter much. In fact, I'm wondering who else reads Poetry reviews but other poets.