New Odes to Tools review by Noel Sloboda

This entry is part 27 of 31 in the series Odes to Tools

My chapbook just received a great review at Verse Wisconsin Onlinecheck it out. By “great,” I don’t mean unremittingly positive, but critical in a good way. In fact, the author, whom I don’t know, has singled out some things about my poetry that bother me as well, while also happening to praise some of my own favorite lines and poems in the book, so overall it was very reassuring. I’m not saying I agree with every one of his remarks, but I really appreciate the level of critical engagement they reflect.

The same issue includes an Editors’ Note on Book Reviews in which they explain their philosophy about reviewing; evidently some poets have been belly-aching about “reviews that are less than wholly positive.” It is illustrated by a wonderful painting, unfortunately too small to make out in very great detail: “Marco Polo Forced to Eat Moths.”

Incidentally, Phoenicia Publishing is holding a fall sale: 15% off on all titles through October 1. See the site for details.

Series Navigation← Woodrat Podcast 2: Elizabeth Adams and “Odes to Tools”New review of Odes to Tools →
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11 Comments


  1. Congrats on the excellent critical review, Dave! We enjoyed Odes very much, did I ever tell you?

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  2. I think it is a great review which reflects thoughtful/respectful engagement with your work – congratulations!

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    1. Thanks, Nic. I feel especially lucky because, as you know, it’s rare for a poetry chapbook to get any reviews, let alone one this sensitive.

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  3. I don’t agree with everything in it… these things, after all, are in many ways subjective. But yes, it is an excellent review, and moreover would have make me seek out the book had I not already owned a copy. (Two actually. One for keeps and one for lending!) Indeed I reached for it again after seeing the review.

    I’m happy for you that the book has garnered this attention. Much deserved my friend. More should do the same. Odes to Tools has given me much pleasure, and continues to do so.

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  4. This is a good review from a worthy reviewer. Too many reviews on the web are written for the indulgence of the reviewer, but this one offers something thoughtful for the reader of poetry. Clearly the reviewer has thought carefully about your poems, whether or not we agree with his details. Congrats and thanks again for writing this book.

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    1. Thanks, John. It was a great review, but I still like your response better! Because I don’t tend to think of other poets as my primary audience, even if that may be the reality at this point, and it can be a little disconcerting when people react more to the style than the subject matter.

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  5. Dave, I think it’s a great review and “Ode” deserves it. I believe that once we put the work into the world, it’s up for grabs. I also believe that any author who thinks they’ve penned a perfect manuscript is delusional. I look back at both my chapbook and my book and see what I could have done better or differently. But what we write is a “moment in time” and even the imperfections are a reflection of where we are/were. Books are no different than Navajo rugs–there’s always a flaw. Why else would we continue move ahead?

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    1. Hi Susan – Thanks for the kind words and the wisdom. You’re right, I don’t think we should get too hung up on perfectionism. I guess I aspire to be somewhere between the fanatic devotees of craft on the one side and the neo-Beats on the other, who can get dismissive of anything that seems too polished. I should probably care a bit more about how my poems look on the page, but I’m wary of fetishizing that — anytime I get too far away from sound and rhythm, my muse deserts me.

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