Saturday, December 1, 2007

The Check's in the Mail

Amid the bills, rejected manuscript and the detritus called junk mail, was the check. I am always slightly amazed that people pay me for doing something I love.

As a writer, there is no better assignment than that of book review. First, I get a book to read and keep; second, I give my written opinion of that book for publication; and third, I get paid.

Usually, I have a list of several books from which to choose including novels, memoirs, histories, or biographies. Once, a desperate editor asked and I said yes to reviewing a small poetry chapbook. Such a small book, barely 27 pages of poems; how hard can that be and the pay was the same as for a full-length novel. I draw the line at reviewing romance; I may redraw that line to include poetry chapbooks. Although few pages in length, it is by far the toughest review I do.

Don’t get me wrong. I write poetry; I love to read some poetry – the operative word here is ‘some’. There’s more to poetry than rhyme and meter and often, quoting the exact lines is the only way to get across the atmosphere of a piece to my reader.

Reviewing a novel is somewhat subjective, but a novel has a plot, protagonist, antagonist and a story that is either entertaining or not. Poetry, on the other hand, is totally subjective. Here we have the interior dialogue of a poet with words distilled to mere essence and imagery. I read and reread and reread, the few pages to steep myself in the poet’s idea of themselves and their world before making the first note. Page length becomes irrelevant.

I earned this check and then some.
© Perle Champion

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