I am finding the latest book I have been given to review a challenging read. There seems to me to be a question of ethics. A few years ago when I was doing my creative writing degree someone posted a poem on the University Bulletin board about "chavs" - I can't remember much about it now except that it was quite derogatory. What I do remember though is the massive debate that ensued about the ethics of writing and posting such a poem, the uncomfortableness of humour at someone else's expense (something that is more acceptable in stand-up comedy but less so on the page), the judgement that is both made and invited when one produces such a poem. The general consensus seemed to be that it was not acceptable.
Therein lies the problem with the collection I am reading at the moment. The poet has written a series of poems about the seamier side of society but the very writing (and reading) of them feels like a judgement has either been made or is being invited. It is an uncomfortable feeling - maybe I would have feel comfortable if the poet was writing them in persona but they are observations. I would like to know how other people feel about this.