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This review is taken from PN Review 166, Volume 32 Number 2, November - December 2005.

A LONG VIEW FROM A SHORT STREET CARMINE STARNINO, A Lover's Quarrel (The Porcupine's Quill) CAN$24.95

Michael Schmidt, in his Lives of the Poets, dismisses Canadian poetry as a short street, and the American editors of World Poetry: An Anthology of Verse from Antiquity to Our Time, while thoughtful enough to have included poems from ancient Sumeria and the Bronze Age and from almost every country in Asia, Africa, Europe and the Americas, admit not a single versicle from their northern neighbour. What, not even Leonard Cohen? The question of what comprises a Canadian identity has been, for natives of that country, one of the most tedious (both tedious and self-inflicted) of the past thirty years. When I was a student in Ottawa, in the 1970s, I queried Professor Robin Mathews, one of the authors of the Big Question, saying that maybe a poem by F.R. Scott was not, as he suggested, quite as great as The Waste Land. He flew at me with a screamed whisper that quickly rose to a whispered scream, 'Marrriiiius, don't tell me what's what! I've read everything from Beowulf to Virginia Woolf.' Sadly this witty and charming and quite impossible man is dealt a glancing blow in this elegantly written book, which, in part, addresses Michael Schmidt and the editors of World Poetry.

'What is being dismissed,' Starnino argues in A Lover's Quarrel, 'is not Canadian poetry so much as the programmatic version we've fashioned from it. This version... has ...


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