7 Questions With Poetry Reviewer Laura DiNovis Berry
Laura DiNovis Berry first began reviewing poetry books in 2018. A published poet herself, she recognized an intense need within the poetry community for more reviewers of poetry.
Determined to help not only living poets but other areas of her community, Berry donates 10% of the earnings and donations received via Berry’s Poetry Book Reviews to a different non-profit organization at the end of every year. Lambda Literary will be this year’s beneficiary.
In today’s interview Laura tackles poetry reviewing and encourages readers to give poetry a standing chance.
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Esther Rabbit: Traditionally published vs. Self published authors, you’ve had your hands and eyes on several novels from both industries. Does the quality of writing really differ?
What I truly enjoy is the absolutely wild nature of self published work. There’s no knowing what I am about to read. Will it be shockingly distinguishable or an egregious task to get through it?
There are no editors guarding the publishing house gates. It’s like a fairy. It simply exists and will be benevolent or cause mischief with impunity.
Traditionally published writing, since it has that stamp of editorial approval, does tend to be more disciplined, but that in itself isn’t a negative or a positive. It simply is.
Self published work just has more freedom.
Esther Rabbit: Is book reviewing a full time job or professional hobby in your case?
In my case it is a professional hobby. My spouse’s occupation requires frequent travel so I am not always able to stick to a consistent schedule for my reviews. But reviewing provides a mental anchor for me wherever we go. It is a constant form of exercise for my brain.
Esther Rabbit: Obviously, there’s a lot of work behind book reviewing – reading, taking notes, editing your Blog/Vlog/Channel. Can you give us some insight on your life behind the scenes and how you build up towards a successful post/vlog?
I like to spend a few days with a text. I usually read straight through it first while curled up with my dogs or out in my patio in the mornings with my coffee.
I quickly set about marking stanzas or specific lines that intrigue me. Then I begin to backtrack and delve deeper into particular poems that really stood out as I muse over the theme of the book or attempt to decipher more cryptic pieces. The text itself is often quoted in my reviews so readers can get a good feel of it.
Esther Rabbit: Why do you do it?
Poets often struggle to get their work reviewed. I think that’s an unfortunate byproduct of a general misunderstanding of poetry and that many writers aren’t sure how to market their work, especially if they are self published. This project started as a means to help living poets engage with readers who may find a deep connection with their work.
Esther Rabbit: How do you manage to juggle life and book reviewing?
This is one of the reasons why I ask poets to send me a hard copy of their work. Whenever I have a few minutes – whether I’m at the beach, waiting for my drama students to file in, or waiting for an oil change, I can pull out their book and lose myself in it.
Esther Rabbit: Did any author lash out on you or write a heartfelt thank you note?
I have only had one poet so far become upset with a review. My reviews are honest reflections of my opinion and while I do try to critique rather than criticize, I understand it can be hard on the psyche not to receive a stellar review. Many poets have reached out to say thanks which is very sweet, but this is not necessary.
Esther Rabbit: Do you charge for your services or do it for the joy of book reviewing?
The poets who submit their work to me do not owe me a thing. This service is to help their work plant a stake in the world. My writing, which is published on Vocal.Media only receives payment based on my number of readers and donations from patrons. So no, I do not require payment or even ‘thank you’s’ from the poets.
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