Thursday, July 19, 2007

Reading and Thinking

It's worth taking 10 minutes to listen to the interview with Fiona Sampson from Woman's Hour last week, helpfully drawn to my attention by my wife. She has quite a few interesting nuggets to share about poetry and editing Poetry Review. It's encouraging to hear that she reads all the roughly 60,000 unsolicited submissions that come into the magazine's office in a year, especially as not all poetry competitions are honest about who does the initial read-through*.

I was also interested by what she had to say about the necessity for women's writing not to let go of thinking. That had never hit me as a particular problem, but maybe that's because of the kind of poetry I'm drawn to, regardless of the poet's gender. I'm also struck that we should still have such a label as "women's writing" without ever talking about "men's writing" as a definable cultural entity. Perhaps that demonstrates just how far away we still are from genuine literary gender equality. Perhaps it also points to a greater reluctance among men to read "women's writing" than the other way round. A curious state of affairs, given how much men puzzle over the way women think.

*I did have an online reference for this but can't find it at the moment. I'll put it in when I can.

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