A review of Jill Jones’ 2005 collection Broken/Open [Salt Publishing] appeared in yesterday’s Weekend Australian, drawing comment today on the poetry mailing list ‘poneme’, of which Jones is a member. How much do reviews – positive or negative – affect sales? someone asked.
I can’t say, Jones replied. ‘I don’t know if reviews (or indeed prizes) have an effect on sales. I suspect sales of poetry books in Australia are mostly word of mouth or sold at readings, launches etc. Reviews haven’t changed what I write, mainly because they’ve been so various (good, bad, indifferent), but they do shed light on how some people receive the work.
‘Someone said to me once you’re not a real writer until you get some bad reviews, meaning, among other things, if someone’s always getting good reviews you’d have to suspect a bit of cosying-up is going on.
‘But as for recognition, well, I don’t know if awards really do it. Seriously, I have no idea and I wonder if most people take notice. I’ve won two and been shortlisted for a few others (the latest being the recent Age Poetry Book of the Year one – which I didn’t win, c’est la guerre) but I don’t know that I have any more recognition because of it than if I hadn’t. Most people I know, for instance, didn’t even know about the Age award shortlisting or, alternatively an acquaintance congratulated me this week on winning it. So, literally, I don’t know. Only others can answer really. I don’t think poets can have an objective view of their own reputation.’