I’ve been meaning all week to write a post about Stride, because of these reviews by editor Rupert Loydell, which I enjoyed a lot. The best thing you can do is read them yourselves, because there are loads of good talking points in there, such as the strange gender imbalance in Don’t Start Me Talking. I might still end up buying it, because there are writers I’ve enjoyed, such as Kelvin Corcoran, in there, but I think Rupert’s right that certain editorial decisions look to have made the volume a bit less than essential.
There are good points about Poetry Wars, too. I’d agree that the very idea of such a book seems to blow the whole thing out of proportion, while ignoring really interesting recent developments such as print-on-demand publishing, and the success of publishers such as Salt in getting a real diversity of poetry out there in the wider world.
Lastly, Innovative Women Poets intrigues me, not least because Rupert says “These writers get on with doing what writers do, that is, write.” That’s pretty much what I want from a poet, of whatever type, so it’ll go on my list of books to be ordered.
Actually, that quote also serves as a pretty good summation of Stride itself. It publishes a refreshingly eclectic selection of poetry, and perhaps even better gives reviews the space they deserve, without any of that “editor sets the poet up for deification/demolition” thing that I’ve mentioned before. There’s obviously times I disagree with them, but I never get the feeling it’s all geared to a particular agenda. They're opinionated but actually get to grips with the writing, not the writer.
Oh, and it also adds new material on a regular basis (every few days), which means I tend to take my time over reading it. This morning, referring back to the reviews, I came across these poems by Jennifer Olds. I only had time to read the first two, but they’re great. Look forward to getting back to the rest later.