Sunday, February 28, 2021

CR Newsletter March is out!

The March Compulsive Reader Newsletter has just gone out. This month we feature interviews with Keats' Ode's Anahid Nersessian and A Gentle Tyranny's Jess Corban as well as eight new reviews including, among other things, Elena Ferrante's new book The Lying Life of Adults, Vegan Junk Food by Zacchary Bird, and Sonnets by Theresa Rodriguez. There are also two new giveaways and a whole bevy of literary news from around the world. It should be arriving in your inbox directly, but if you haven't gotten it yet, you can grab a copy from the archive, here:

Tuesday, February 2, 2021

Compulsive Reader Newsletter Feb

The Compulsive Reader February newsletter has now been fully distributed. This month's issue includes fresh reviews of books by Terese Svoboda, Chandra Gurung. Nina Murray, Kim Chinquee, and lots more as well as interviews of Hollywood actress and author Brianne Davis, along with a full suite of literary news, three new (and rather fabulous) giveaways including the amazing Jennifer Maiden's new poetry book Biological Necessity which will be autographed.  If you didn't get your copy, you can grab a copy from the archive here:

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Image: "My Bookshelf 1" by Frank M Rafik

Thursday, December 31, 2020

Compulsive Reader Newsletter January 2021

Hello readers!  Happy new year! 2020 was something else, but here's hoping that 2021 brings peace, healing, and cooperation towards the serious work we have to do this year to bring our world back into balance. On a lighter note, the January Compulsive Reader newsletter is on its way out to you. I'll start with our bumper giveaway!  We've got 5 books to giveaway this month - some autographed. As usual, we don't get all that many entries so your chances of winning are very good. I use a random selector tool, but a lot of people win regularly, so send in your entries and hopefully you'll get one of our fabulous books posted directly to your door.  We also have 10 fresh reviews/interviews, including The Memoirs of Jimmy Sizemore by Jim Flynn, What the Living Remember by Nancy Gerber, and Life of a Firefly by Sandra Brown Lindstedt, and of course a literary news roundup that includes the 2021 spoken word Grammys, The Center for Fiction's First Novel Prize, and the 2021 Joyce Carol Oates Prize longest.  

They can sometimes take a little while to get to you, and occasionally the newsletter slips into spam so if you'd like to grab a copy from the public archive, just visit: 

If you'd like to subscribe (it's free of course, and I only send one newsletter a month), visit:   Happy reading!  

Photo by Radu Marcusu on Unsplash

Monday, November 30, 2020

Compulsive Reader Newsletter Dec


Hello everyone, the Compulsive Reader newsletter for December is on its way to your inbox, featuring 10 new reviews including The Disaster Tourist by Yun Ko-Eun, Thread, Form, and Other Enclosures by Carol Smallwood, Arsenal / Sin Documentos by Francesco Levato, Poems of bay, beach & harbour By Margaret Owen Ruckert, Best of Brevity edited by ZoĆ« Bossiere and Dinty W. Moore, Lord of the Senses by Vikram Kolmannskog, To Sleep in a Sea of Stars by Christopher Paolini, and Give a Girl Chaos by Heidi Seaborn. We also have new interviews with Leslie Klein and Gail Godwin.  Of course there are giveaways of three books this month, a big news roundup that includes the Booker, the National Book Award, and the Costa. To grab a copy directly from our archive, go here: To sign up for the newsletter, visit:

"books" by peter.clark is licensed with CC BY-NC 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit

Saturday, October 31, 2020

Compulsive Reader Newsletter for November has gone out

Hello readers, the November Compulsive Reader newsletter has just gone out.  This month we have a baker's dozen worth of new content including reviews of books like No Spider Harmed in the Making of this Book Edited by Cherry Potts, The Hate Race by Maxine Beneba Clarke, 125 Rus by Ana Efimenko to name a few, as well as interview with The Fourth Year Spell's Amanda Jeffrey, The Reconception of Marie's Teresa Carmody, and Sweating it Out's Deborah Turner.  We also have three fantastic new giveaways for subscribers (subscribe right here for free:, and a huge roundup of literary news.  If you can't wait for it to arrive in your inbox, you can grab a copy here:

Happy reading! 

"books" by Michael Casey is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Friday, October 2, 2020

Compulsive Reader Newsletter for Oct is out

The Compulsive Reader newsletter for October is now out, winging its way to subscribers.  This month features 3 new book giveaways, 10 fresh reviews including, among others, Sea Glass Catastrophe by Quinn Rennerfeldt, The Minor Virtues by Lynn Levin, and The Beating Heart by Denise O’Hagan (you can also check out my interview with Denise at Compulsive Reader Talks).  We also have the full literary news roundup, and lots more bookish entertainment.  If you are a subscriber and haven't received it yet, you can: view it in your browser.  

If you're not a subscriber, just go to and sign up - it's free and we only send out one newsletter a month.  

Happy reading! 

Thursday, September 24, 2020

ModPo 2020 Analysis: The Poets Light But Lamps by Emily Dickinson

It's ModPo time again!  I've participated in the, by now famous, Modern and Contemporary Poetry (“ModPo”) course since it began in 2012.  Every year is different, informed by the many changes in our lives, in the world, and in the overall material that comprises the course, which are ever expanding. One of the many things I like is how the essay subjects continue to change, so that there are new poems to dive into. This year, the Emily Dickinson poem is number 930, "The Poets light but Lamps".  My essay follows.  If you haven't joined ModPo, I heartily recommend it.  It's free, there are no constraints (you can do as much or as little as you want - now, or throughout the year), it's open to all levels, and it's very engaging!  

The Poets light but Lamps--
Themselves — go out —
The Wicks they stimulate
If vital Light

Inhere as do the Suns —
Each Age a Lens
Disseminating their
Circumference —

“The Poets light but Lamps” is one of Dickinson’s shorter poems - with just two quatrains of no more than 5 words per line with a very regular syllabic structure of 6/4/6/4 for each of the quatrains. There is no punctuation other than the em(ily) dash which adds space without slowing the reading down, thereby energising the piece, as it draws the eye forward. The poem ends with the dash, which, except in the work of Dickinson, is rarely used for the ending of something, and hints at the ongoing nature of the work - visually indicating that this is not an ending as such, but something that will continue - poetry being immortal. 

The dash also provides a visual representation of a wick, thereby picking up the “Wick” in the third line, stimulated by the Poet’s light - or the light of poetry. Unusually for Dickinson, the first word of each line is capitalised. Assuming this was Dickinson's intention rather than the work of an overzealous editor, this creates a regularity that is also strengthened by capitalisation's emphasis as it creates a mirroring of "The Poets" with "The Wicks". There is also an alliteration between "If" and "Inhere", thereby linking lamplight with sunlight. The poem utilises an extended metaphor conflating the work of the poet (a lamplighter stimulating a wick - perhaps the impetus for the poem) with the Sun itself - or Suns (?) - some broader category of star shine than simply our own Sol. 

Three words stand out for the number of syllables they contain and seem to connect to one another: stimulate, Disseminating, and Circumference. Though there are all quite different words, without too much in common other than the scientific quality and the multisyllabic sound, but they also provide a sense of sonic expensiveness, as if the very nature of these longer words were able to extend the reach of the poet - moving outwards from the point of stimulation in an expansionary way, spreading outside of the circle of life. You could almost visualise the light (of poetry) spreading in that way through through the work and outwards from it. 

“Inhere” is an unusual word which means “to exist essentially or permanently in”, as in inherent. It’s possible to read the first line of the second stanza as relating to the vital light of poetry as being part and parcel of what we need to survive - as life-giving and in need of dissemination by each age. The one word which doesn’t quite fit semantically is “If” which is a point of uncertainty in the overall piece adding in a condition that could undermine the work’s thesis. If the light is not vital then perhaps there is no immortality - perhaps only some poetry is vital and work that is not vital can be forgotten. Or, it may be that the condition is one that sits with the reader. ‘If’ the reader judges the work as vital, then there is a mandate to disseminate the poetry for the sake of humanity, vital poetry being as necessary to life as sunlight, against the ephemeral darkness of each age’s fashion.