Closer: Poems by Christopher Stephen Soden

A review by Piet Bach

2011, Queer Mojo, an imprint of Rebel Satori Press, Bar Harbor, Maine
ISBN: 978-1-60864-045-4 // 127 pgs., paperback, $13.95


Closer by Christopher Stephen SodenChristopher Soden teaches creative writing, and has been writing poetry and theatre criticism for something over three decades.  A resident of the Dallas-Ft. Worth area, his theatrical resources include two highly regarded opera companies as well as other performance venues.  Yet he doesn’t know how to spell Pagliacci, or pfeffernüss, or the difference between its and it’s.  This is either a comment on the parlous state of American education today, a failure of his editors at Rebel Satori Press, or a sidelong glimpse of the self-referential world of the MFA programs that seem to be de rigueur if a writer is to be accepted by the modern publishing world.  The rule is that if it’s going on paper, especially if you’re a teacher, you get it right.  This is why publishers send galley proofs to authors.  Poetry cannot be encumbered with grammar or spelling so egregiously incorrect that it stalls the eye and hobbles the imagination.  Why lay a garden path unevenly, so that instead of admiring the harmony of the gardener’s design one is forced to watch the footing for fear of breaking an ankle on a loose brick?  I was able to navigate approximately a third of this collection before I turned and hobbled back to the mudroom, fearful for my temper if not for my bones.

Those wishing to explore Soden’s garden can go here to order; it is not available at Amazon.

3 Responses to Closer: Poems by Christopher Stephen Soden

  1. Christopher Soden says:

    Indeed the first edition was hindered by egregious typos, though I believe there is more than one acceptable spelling for pfeffernuse. I would be happy to send you a copy of the corrected edition, if you would only pay me the kindness of actually addressing content and craft. I know that the majority of the text was not flawed, but I agree that basic errors (not due to my lack of knowledge) can be a dreadful distraction. If only I’d known you were reviewing Closer I could have gotten you a better copy. I apologize for any disappointment and inconvenience. I have worked long and hard at my vocation, though prolonged illness made it difficult to be as vigilant with Closer as I ought to have been. I care deeply about the quality of the writing I forge, and feel bad that readers have had to deal with these needless obstacles.

  2. christopher says:

    I should add here that the revised, corrected edition was available at the time I requested that Wilde Oates review my collection. I don’t know if I unwittingly sent you the wrong digital copy, or you bought one used, etc. I take full responsibility, I just can’t help but wonder. I never heard back on my request, other than that the review might happen. Had I known, I believe I would have sent you the current edition. I am struggling to get recognition, and I know it’s not your fault you got a flawed edition. I suffer from several disabilities and it often hinders my efficiency and perception. I’m sorry if I wasted your time.

  3. Christopher Soden says:

    I’m just curious here. When I requested a review, I was offered no guarantees. Numerous other venues (including Chelsea Station and The Advocate) had no problem with the typos and other errors, but, if you found these problems so egregious, so insufferable, why write anything at all? I certainly didn’t expect a puff piece, but I never dreamed my inability to spell “Pagliacchi” would be such an affront to the literary community. I’m not defending my lack of vigilance or an edition that was so problematic for you, but what exactly did you achieve by publishing a review?

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