Canvassing for Votes at Saboteur Awards 2017


Earlier this month, I had the lovely surprise of being nominated for Best Reviewer at this year’s Saboteur Awards. I was really touched by this; I work away on the reviews and they get put up there and I’m proud of them, but generally I don’t have a lot of time to publicise them. So it’s really gratifying to see they’ve been noticed.

There are a number of reasons why I started to review for Sabotage Reviews. As a poet flogging a debut collection, I came up against the usual challenges of getting my own work reviewed; a number of reviewers are friends/ colleagues, so you can’t ask them, many mainstream outlets have little or no funding for poetry reviews, the general lack of a massive poetry reading audience. I did of course also have plenty of successes and good reviews, for which I am forever grateful!

But the experience got me thinking about poetry reviewing and how necessary it is to have people out there reviewing work – for the health of poetry in general. I was intrigued by Sabotage Reviews, a collection of brilliant selfless people who review work just for the joy of reading new poetry, and so I got in touch to see if they would have me. Being Irish and based in Ireland, I was also eager to review work that came from another country. That meant less risk of conflict of interest, and also the golden opportunity to read new work from a very different milieu. Since I’ve started reviewing for Sabotage Reviews, I’ve read new work from all across the UK and the USA. It’s been a pleasure.

There’s a spotlight on the nominated best reviewers here. I’m shamelessly pulling some lovely quotes people left about my work when they voted:

Why voters think she should win:

  • Committed, passionate and fair-minded – a force for good in poetry on the page and off.
  • A bright and forensic voice
  • Jess gets what reviewing is meant to be about: discussing works on their own terms, with a sensitive, empathetic and nuanced critical faculty.
  • She is balanced and remarkably frank

As I said above, I really admire the Sabotage Reviews Project. Everyone involved is donating their time for free, for the good of the written and spoken word. I’d love you to vote for me of course, but do have a look at the other nominees and categories too. There’s lots of great work in there that deserves to be recognised.

Vote here 

2 thoughts on “Canvassing for Votes at Saboteur Awards 2017

  1. Although I’m not very good at doing this myself, I think it’s okay to ask colleague writers or friend writers if they’re in a position to review your book. All they’re doing at the minimum, is providing a NOTICE of its existence. At best of course, they’ll do more to illuminate what you’re doing as a writer. I think this is perfectly fair if your writer colleague isn’t a complete and utter sycophant of the kind we frequently witness at work in certain newspapers — where one knows instantly that a very comfortable little set-up has occurred of mutual back-scratching! It’s problematic though. But who else can review us but other writers? They are the best disposed to do it. Incidentally, I’d have reviewed your collection gladly!

    • Thanks for that Mary! Yes it certainly is tricky, but I would agree getting the reviews out there is the most important thing. I’ve been asked to do some reviews for PIR recently and have only stipulated I won’t review other Dedalus writers – or very close friends as you say. But I’m looking forward to it and hoping after recent stats on the lack of women reviewers that it’ll contribute to a healthier ecology!

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