Review of "Nomenclature..."
The Nomenclature of Small Things is the debut poetry collection from Lynn Pedersen. It's a really wonderful book, dealing with themes of evolution, extinction, grief and fragile optimism. I reviewed it for a recent issue of Pleiades Book Review, and the process was pretty simple: I queried B.J. Hollars, the PBR Editor, he added me to their reviewers listserv, I requested a few poetry collections, which the folks at Pleiades then mailed to me, and eventually I composed the review. However...
The Pleiades Book Review has deadlines in July and December. I blew the July 2016 deadline, and then in late December I had to email the new PBR Editor, Jennifer Schomburg Kanke, asking for an extension. (I was so tardy with my review that the editorship had changed!) This was only a minor screw-up, of course. No one was waiting for my review. Without that editorial pressure, though, I really overworked my analysis of Nomenclature. For instance, I charted out the poems and wrote maybe 2,500 words that eventually I edited down to fewer than 1,000.
But that's OK. Poetry is hard for me, and I wanted to do Pedersen's collection justice. For more than 25 years, my dad was the managing news and sports editor of our hometown newspaper. One time he told me, something along the lines of, every newspaper story is likely to be cut out by someone and kept in a scrapbook. That thought informs my approach to book reviews: they might not have a large readership, but they're nonetheless very meaningful. They give credit to hard-working authors whose efforts might otherwise go unnoticed. When I get the chance as a teacher, I'm going to make my students write book reviews as an act of literary citizenship.