PQ Weekly Roundup: 19 Apr 2019

Every Friday, the PQ Weekly Roundup collects the most shared links in our social media network—bookish articles, reviews, quizzes, recommendations and more—in convenient digest form.



Have a wonderful long weekend, Quill fans. Enjoy the time with friends, family and … books!


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#NPM19 Special Edition of From the Vault: Poetry Criticism

As our National Poetry Month content continues, it is tempting to encourage you to just read poetry … read all the poetry. Pick up copies of a few near-forgotten favourites from the Essential Poets series. Snap up a new release or two, like Joe Rosenblatt’s Bite Me! Reach for a challenge by picking up a collection like Shane Neilson’s Dysphoria. Pick up poetry—any book of poetry—and experience the pleasure of telling your brain to think in an entirely different way.

But then I remember that while reading poetry is great in and of itself, reading about poetry also offers a stupendous window into the poetic mind. To me, criticism it is sort of like the missing ingredient in the recent surge in the popularity of poetry because, when you think about it, it is one thing to consume poetry, but it is another to appreciate it. Reading poetry criticism can help you build confidence in your reading, or maybe just show you that you are allowed to have an opinion (unpopular or otherwise) about what you’ve read. It can expand your ability to approach poetry, develop your reading skills, and offer differing interpretations with which you can engage. Also, people confident enough to write about poetry are often crazy-good writers themselves.

If you’d like to delve a little deeper into poetry appreciation, here are a few favourite books of poetry criticism to help you get started.

Strike Anywhere

Strike Anywhere
by Michael Lista

One of the avowed purposes of Michael Lista’s Strike Anywhere is to tackle the question “why does poetry suck?” … which is a pretty good indication that Lista is prepared to be brutally honest throughout the book. His reviews take on famous names as well as poets new to the game, but he also takes a look at the Canadian literary institution in general—with much to say about the type of poetry it churns out. Strike Anywhere is an incisive and at times controversial look at literature and poetry in Canada.

A Lover's Quarrel

A Lover’s Quarrel
by Carmine Starnino

Carmine Starnino is known for his no-holds-barred reviews, which have enlivened the field of Canadian literature for some time. A Lover’s Quarrel collects some of these reviews, but also includes an ambitious reassessment of Canadian poetry. As a poet himself, Starnino has unique insight and the ability to clearly, concisely—and entertainingly—communicate his (sometimes controversial) opinions in writing.

Fine Incisions

Fine Incisions
by Eric Ormsby

For a bit of a change of pace, pick up a copy Eric Ormsby’s Fine Incisions, a collection of gracious and intelligent essays filled with writing that is vigorous, opinionated and occasionally hilarious. With beautifully lyrical language and clarity of thought, Ormsby’s writings vary widely across a number of genres and forms, but always elicit provocative reflection on the part of the reader.

The Pigheaded Soul

The Pigheaded Soul
by Jason Guriel

I can’t help but end with a personal favourite—Jason Guriel’s The Pigheaded Soul. Guriel’s book is intelligent and witty, peppered with pop culture references and wry humour. But what I like best about The Pigheaded Soul is the passion evident in each essay—Guriel knows what he likes and doesn’t like, and he’s not afraid to say what he feels, no matter how controversial his opinion might be. As I tell everyone considering this book: this is the type of criticism I wish I’d read as an undergrad!


PortraitHope you enjoyed this little list of poetry criticism. Perhaps I’ve convinced you to add one to your bookshelf?

Also, let me know if you have a favourite book of poetry criticism you think I should read!


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PQ Weekly Roundup: 12 Apr 2019

Every Friday, the PQ Weekly Roundup collects the most shared links in our social media network—bookish articles, reviews, quizzes, recommendations and more—in convenient digest form.



Don’t forget to enter our giveaway. Gotta love some free poetry—especially when it’s as good as Lori Cayer’s!

Happy Friday,

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Poetry Book Giveaway: Mrs Romanov by Lori Cayer

Happy Poetry Month everyone! It’s always important to have holiday traditions, and ours for the last few years has been to give away books to show our thanks and appreciation for our wonderful supporters. So in keeping, we have a treat for you!

We were recently pleased to learn that one of our books had been longlisted for not one but TWO respected awards. That book is….


By Lori Cayer

Mrs Romanov

Mrs Romanov has been longlisted for the League of Canadian Poets’ Raymond Souster Award as well as the Pat Lowther Memorial Award. Join us in celebrating this achievement by entering to win your very own copy of this wonderful book. How do you win? It’s easy:

1. log in to the form below using email, Facebook, Instagram or Twitter
2. earn up to six entries by visiting us Facebook or Instagram, tweeting on Twitter, browsing our Essential Poets page or signing up for our newsletter. Don’t forget the bonus entry—complete at least one action (visiting our Instagram page, for example) to unlock!
3. log out of the form to submit your entry

The winner will be contacted by email next week.



PortraitGood luck Quill fans. We hope you have a fantastic National Poetry Month—don’t be afraid to pick up a new poetry book, attend a reading, or write a poem yourself!Steph

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PQ Weekly Roundup: 05 Apr 2019

Every Friday, the PQ Weekly Roundup collects the most shared links in our social media network—bookish articles, reviews, quizzes, recommendations and more—in convenient digest form.



Looks like a fair amount of good news this week. Here’s hoping we keep that trend alive next time!

Have a great weekend,

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On the Poetic Abominations of an Un-Angsty Youth, or, News for April at PQL

I am not, nor have I ever been, a poet. I know this because I recently found incontrovertible proof of my poetic failings.

The evidence took the form of a number of laboriously hand-written lyrical abominations straight out of my somewhat dramatic youth.

thre people in press shop looking at papers

The looks on these faces sums up all my feelings about my early poetic attempts–haughty disdain, earnest confusion, vague embarrassment.

I found this pile of lyrical lemons languishing in a stack of old papers that have been cluttering up my home office since my admittedly not-too-recent move. The papers that I excavated must have been at least fifteen years old, dating back to my teenage years (rather un-angsty, it must be said, which maybe accounts for the uninspired doggerel I managed to produce).

I cringe just thinking about the sheer amount of cliché—enough to sink a ship, as I would have said, probably—and allusions galore, to boot. I must have been trying to beat my putative audience into submission with my literary horizons, which were only about as boundless as a Grade 10 English student’s could be. And let’s not forget

the random spacing,
   which every true poet knows

to produce


Of course, I know a little better now, in theory. Enough, in fact, to know that I’ll leave the versifying to the professionals. Luckily we have lots of those around here at The Porcupine’s Quill, especially during the month of April, which happens to be National Poetry Month. Stick with us over the course of the month and you’ll be treated to four weeks’ worth of poetry-focused content—and maybe even a giveaway or two!


What’s happening this month…


This month, we’re hoping to finish printing on the next issue of the Devil’s Artisan, our “Journal of the Printing Arts”. DA 84 will feature an examination of the fascinating (and huge!) visual art of Ojibwe artist Carl Beam. We hope to have copies ready in time for the Grimsby Wayzgoose at the end of April. Hope to see you there!

In Toronto.

Dysphoria author Shane Neilson will be taking part in a literary evening at Ben McNally Books in Toronto. He’ll be reading alongside fellow authors Monica Kidd and Amanda Leduc on April 3.

Shane will also participate in a panel discussion entitled “Why Are You So Scared?”, speaking about poetry, medicine and mortality. The event will take place on April 16 at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto. Shane will be joined by authors Molly Peacock and Ronna Bloom in a conversation moderated by Dr. Allen Peterkin of the University of Toronto.

In Winnipeg.

Lori Cayer, whose book Mrs Romanov was recently longlisted for the Pat Lowther Memorial Award and the Raymond Souster Award, will be participating in a reading and discussion of narrative poetry at Canadian Menonnite University’s MHC Gallery. She will read along with fellow Winnipeg poets Dennis Cooley, Sarah Klassen and John Weier

In Grimsby.

The Porcupine’s Quill will once again have a table at the annual Wayzgoose in Grimsby, Ontario. We’ll bring along a lovely selection of books as well as issues of DA, so be sure to pick up a few new favourites.

In the world.

April 3 is Don’t Go to Work Unless it’s Fun Day. See you there, folks!

April 18 is Newspaper Columnists Day. Take a moment to thank your favourite columnist for the blood, sweat, and tears they put into their work. Or just make an effort do read a good column. Either way, be supportive!

And finally, April 30 is National Honesty Day. It’s a good day to solicit an honest critique of your manuscript, or to help a writer out by giving them a few honest impressions of their work in progress.


From the porcupette’s corner

I feel like I learned a lot last month. Most of it had to do with the proofreading I did for an upcoming book—not one of my usual tasks, and not one in which I have found much confidence as of yet. But with some very useful notes from editor extraordinaire Chandra Wohleber, I made a start, I suppose, towards facing my fears of tactlessness and compound adjectives.

little man using a quill to write in a giant book

To me, at least, proofreading seems like a gargantuan undertaking. It seems bigger than any one person, that’s for sure!

I will say one thing, proofreading can mess with your mind. Time and space cease to exist. Some pages seemed to fly by while others took forever to get through. I’m fairly certain I managed to overthink approximately everything. So much so that I started dreaming in proofreading marks. Even picking up a non-work-related book for pleasure reading was difficult because I was hyperaware of commas and hyphenation and paid more attention to grammar than the actual plot!

Let’s just say I was happy to put that particular task to rest for now. Besides, I have a few more substantive edits on my plate!


PortraitThanks for checking in with us here on the blog to see what we’re up to. We like to keep ourselves busy, that’s for sure. As always, drop us a line with questions, comments, kudos, or random hellos. We love hearing from you!


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The Porcupine's Quill would like to acknowledge the support of the Ontario Arts Council and the Canada Council for the Arts for our publishing program. The financial support of the Government of Canada through the Canada Book Fund (CBF) is also gratefully acknowledged.