Wanted! Echoes for rose petals. . .

So what is an OPOI again? 

I wrote about them before last November and on the Sphinx website too, where there already quite a few of these little beasts are congregating.

They are responses to poetry (or prose) pamphlets that focus on just One Point Of Interest. Not more than 350 words each and can easily be shorter, depending on what the point of interest is.

They are reviews with a difference. The aim is not to evaluate (forget praise or blame). The idea is just to focus on something interesting in the publication, a point of discussion. It could be line six in one particular poem. It could be your inability to make sense of any of the poems. It could be a particular metaphor. It could be the use of ellipsis.

What I really hope will happen is for a publication to attract several responses, not just one. Polly Clark’s A Handbook for the Afterlife has two already, but there must be dozens of you out there fascinated by that set of poems. We have room for more.

This is not just another ‘send me your pamphlets and I will organise reviews’. Never mind the pamphlet and the stamps. Send me your OPOI!

There are a few rules. Very simple:

  • 100-350 words.
  • Only focussing on one point of interest (preferably with a heading to indicate what it is).
  • Must approach the work with respect (no cavilling or carping).
  • Written in prose.
  • Details of price, date of publication and source/publisher required.

Of course people can post whole pamphlets to me too and my trusty team will do their best to organise a starter OPOI, though equally you could look at what we have already, and send your OPOI to join the others. It is a friendly fray. Please join it.

Remember ginger beer plants? The way they grew and grew in the cellar (well, ours was in the cellar)? Each day you had to divide the starter and let it begin its work again. So you would give a ginger beer plant to a friend in a jam jar, and they would give one to their friend, and so on. In the end, the delicious ginger beer took over the town, until no-one could bear to think about it any more.

I don’t envisage quite that end for the OPOI but I would like them to be a different kind of response, and to grow. Alan Hill reminded me last week that Don Marquis said ‘publishing a book of poetry is like dropping a rose petal into the Grand Canyon and waiting for the echo’. Echoes to rose petals – that’s what these OPOI are, but louder. You don’t need to be a weighty reviewer. You just need to respond to a single point of interest in any (probably poetry) pamphlet that has come your way, new or old. Send your thoughts to me in an email or via the contact box. Don’t be shy.

Are you, by any chance, contemplating the publication of your own poetry pamphlet? If so, it’s time to read and have thoughts about other people’s. What makes a short collection interesting to you? What has made you want to keep one forever, as opposed to flicking through and smiling politely?

The Grand Canyon is waiting.





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