New Review/Final Review at [PANK]

As I mentioned in an earlier post, [PANK] magazine will close its doors at the end of this year. They had one hell of a 10-year run and quickly became one of the most influential lit. mags on the scene, publishing diverse writing and offering a platform for women’s voices early on. In their farewell statement, posted on Facebook, the editors did leave open the possibility that the magazine could return in some form one day, maybe just online.

For the last five or so years, I’ve been a consistent book reviewer, and doing so has allowed me to keep track of what was happening in the contemporary poetry scene. My final review is of John Amen’s latest collection, Strange Theater, published by New York Quarterly Books. Read the review here.

Big thanks to the editors for allowing me to be part of the [PANK] family for so long. I’m also appreciative for the reviews of my two books that the magazine ran. Here’s hoping that [PANK] returns in some form or another one day.

New Reviews

I wanted to share two new reviews of my poetry collection, All That Remains. The first review was published in the Maine-based journal Off the Cost. Initially, the review was published in print only, but the editors recently uploaded content online. The reviewer, Richard Aston, says of the collection: “All That Remains works as a maturing of Fanelli’s previously published chapbook Front Man. Now he is in a position to branch out to the larger community beyond his personal experience, both in terms of personal story and time line; that which follows from the kind of study and scholarly research that will make him an excellent teacher and writer. The future may bring modifications in form, both of the line and the work itself. Whether the future form he uses is formalist or experimentimental, a doff to poetic traditions of rhyme and meter is in order.”

The other review was published by [PANK] today and written by Tricia Fidler, who had a lot of kind words to say about the book. She writes: “Like a Dylan or Springsteen record deserves more than one spin, Brian Fanelli’s All That Remains is a book that deserves more than one read. Rich in small town culture, this collection is filled with characters that have overcome the losses in life, but it doesn’t forget those who have not. It is down-to-earth and true to those often overlooked groups, the young idealists and the rural working class. Fanelli’s lyrical rhythms whisper and howl, croon and screech, reminding us there will be repercussions for every loss. At the same time, the collection leaves us with the extraordinary hope that it seems only music can bring. For whenever the music stops and all that remains are the ghostly echoes of silence, there will always be the remnants of a song.”

Many thanks to the writers for these reviews, and if you haven’t had a chance to pick up a copy of the book, please do. I’d appreciate the support. Let me know what you think of it!

Poetry Book Review Campaign

The wonderful poetry/activism organization, Split This Rock, is launching a new campaign to get more book reviews of poetry in newspapers throughout the country. The organization first targeted the Washington Post, after the newspaper’s best of 2010 book list didn’t include much poetry. Basically, the organization is launching a letter writing campaign to urge book review editors to give more consideration to poetry chapbooks and full-length collections. I think this is a fantastic campaign and a way to spread the word about poetry books. Here is the information that was sent to me through Split This Rock’s email list.

In response to a special year-end “Best Books of 2010” issue that included an appallingly small number of poetry books, Split This Rock decided it was time to let the editors of The Washington Post’s Book World know that we expect them to publish more reviews of poetry books. Following is an excerpt from the letter we sent on January 14th:
To the Editors: We take issue with the gross lack of poetry books included in the Book World’s “Best Books of 2010” list (Dec. 12, 2010). The section (misleadingly) titled “Fiction & Poetry” included 46 fiction titles and only 2 poetry titles. The insinuation that only 2 poetry books in 2010 were worth recommending-and that poetry is some kind of inferior sub-genre of fiction-is appalling, inaccurate, and completely inappropriate for a major literary publication like the Book World. . . . These statistics reflect the dearth of poetry book reviews in the Book World throughout the year, in striking contrast to the vibrancy and diversity of contemporary poetry. . . .We believe that the Book World should be publishing at least one poetry book review each week.
This letter was co-signed by several well-known local poets, university professors, leaders of literary organizations, and editors of local presses and literary magazines, including Grace Cavalieri, Kyle Dargan, Carolyn Forché, and E. Ethelbert Miller.
We received the following encouraging reply from Book World Editor Rachel Shea:
Thank you for your letter. We did have a debate about whether to call the section “Fiction” or “Fiction & Poetry.” We decided on the latter to signal that poetry books were included. In an ideal world, there would have been more, but our coverage of poetry has been limited since Book World stopped being published as a separate section in 2009. We will continue to do as much as we can, with occasional reviews (for instance, Michael Dirda will be reviewing a biography of Andrew Marvell this Thursday) and roundups of collections. In the meantime, may I forward your letter to the letters page? I think it is fodder for discussion among our readership.
We have followed up to urge the Book World to commit to publishing at least one full-length poetry review per week, and to devote its limited poetry space to contemporary poets. Please add your voice to the campaign by writing a letter today!

It really doesn’t take long to write a letter to the editor or even send an email to the book review editors of local papers. So why not take part in this campaign?