Literary Criticism

The Porcupine's Quill has developed a reputation for publishing noteworthy books of criticism that challenge readers to think deeply about the field of Canadian literature and to demand more of the country's poets and authors—canonical or otherwise. The list below details a number of reasoned, fiercely argued collections sure to spark debate among those who delight in the written word.

 

Ordinary Paradise
Michael Lista
ISBN 978-0-88984-409-4
* COMING SOON *

The essays in Ordinary Paradise muse on what it means to be engaged with literature, music, film and the visual arts, and celebrate the extraordinary power that creative accomplishment can have on our daily lives.


 

Strike Anywhere
Michael Lista
ISBN 978-0-88984-392-9

Michael Lista bravely takes on the inherently contradictory nature of artistic expression and tackles the moral and artistic implications of boob tube blockbusters, all while attempting to answer the age-old question: Why does poetry suck?

Buy in print at AbeBooks.com Buy digital at The Porcupine's Quill Buy at Google

 

Sweet Lechery
Jeet Heer
ISBN 978-0-88984-378-3

‘Heer has a plenty of charm in his way of talking his way around those [authors in the collection]. He has the quality that every good host has; he speaks with intelligence, yet never weighs his subjects down with bloviating.... I suspect you’ll find that his enthusiasm, like that of any good party host, is completely infectious.’

—Michelle Dean, National Post

Buy in print at AbeBooks.com Buy digital at The Porcupine's Quill Buy at Google

 

The Pigheaded Soul
The Pigheaded Soul
Jason Guriel
ISBN 978-0-88984-368-4

‘Jason Guriel's The Pigheaded Soul immediately vaults him into the first rank of poetry critics. He manages, in nearly every sentence, to seem amiable, incorruptible and incisive. His survey of Canadian poetry is without rival; his views on American poetry are utterly fresh. I will be consulting this book for a very, very long time into the future.’

—Dan Chiasson

Buy in print at AbeBooks.com Buy digital at The Porcupine's Quill Buy at Google

 

The Emblems of James Reaney
The Emblems of James Reaney
Thomas Gerry
ISBN 978-0-88984-358-5

‘Thoroughly researched and annotated, the book provides even the uninitiated with all the information and context required to arrive at an admiration of the full reach of Reaney's creative endeavors.’

—Barbara Bamberger Scott, Foreword Reviews

Buy in print at AbeBooks.com Buy digital at The Porcupine's Quill Buy at Google

 

You Are Here
You Are Here
James Pollock
ISBN 978-0-88984-357-8

You Are Here: Essays on the Art of Poetry in Canada is an elegant salvo in the ongoing guerilla war against Canada's complacent (and sometimes incompetent) poetry culture. Erudite but always accessible, Pollock is a critic who belongs to the best kind of old school: the sort whose members write clearly, can teach you a thing or two and have the nerve to have an opinion.’

—Jason Guriel, author of Pure Product

Buy in print at AbeBooks.com Buy digital at The Porcupine's Quill Buy at Google

 

Fine Incisions
Fine Incisions
Eric Ormsby
ISBN 978-0-88984-334-9

‘A poet by trade, Ormsby's writing is sure to draw readers in, and his stories and discussions will resonate with any, critic and non-critic alike. Fine Incisions is a strong addition to any literary criticism collection, enthusiastically recommended.’

—Mary Cowper, Midwest Book Review

Buy in print at AbeBooks.com Buy digital at The Porcupine's Quill Buy at Google

 

Canadian Literature in English, Volume 2
Canadian Literature in English, Volume 2
W. J. Keith
ISBN 978-0-88984-285-4

‘This is a diverse set of essays, most of them previously published, which may be read individually as commentaries ... or together as a manifesto on modern Canadian criticism and literature. Either way, the reading is a salutary experience.... ’

—R. G. Moyles, Canadian Book Review Annual

Buy in print at AbeBooks.com Buy at Google

 

Canadian Literature in English, Volume 1
Canadian Literature in English, Volume 1
W. J. Keith
ISBN 978-0-88984-283-0

Canadian Literature in English ... is both canon and myth. Canon because it is a principled selection and discussion of key works Keith sees as establishing a national tradition, and myth because it provides a survey of the history and development of Canadian literature that has a particular shape.’

—Alex Good, Toronto Star

Buy in print at AbeBooks.com Buy at Google

 

A Lover's Quarrel
A Lover's Quarrel
Carmine Starnino
ISBN 978-0-88984-241-0

‘Carmine Starnino is one of the most important writers and readers of poetry in the contemporary English-speaking world. America has no one like him. It may be, for reasons of culture, history, and perhaps even geography, that only Canada could have produced him at this juncture. In any case, his talent, idealism, and ambition make his work exciting, and I would say necessary, reading. Unless, that is, we want to be hopelessly provincial.’

—Bill Coyle, Contemporary Poetry Review

Buy in print at AbeBooks.com Buy at Google

 

Director's Cut
Director's Cut
David Solway
ISBN 978-0-88984-272-4

‘Few critics match the moral urgency of David Solway, whose poetry reviews constitute an anti-canon set against the literati's assessment of its own merits.... Solway's praise, by contrast is refreshingly nuanced: he wants to restore to readers poems “that are so verbally rich and juicy, they are like peaches you have to take your shirt off to eat.” Director's Cut might be read as the tree where these forbidden fruits await the plucking—with all the sudden self-knowledge that implies.’

Quill & Quire

Buy in print at AbeBooks.com Buy at Google

 

Writers Talking
Writers Talking
John Metcalf and Claire Wilkshire
ISBN 978-0-88984-274-8

Writers Talking is very much a book that is alive, one that will certainly make readers want to read more (especially by these eight writers), and read more carefully; it will also make writers want to write more—and, again, more carefully. Each of these stories dazzles with a quiet, meticulous brilliance, a brilliance that comes from a sustained, holy belief in getting the words right.’

—Melanie Little, The Globe and Mail

Buy in print at AbeBooks.com Buy at Google

 

When Words Deny the World
When Words Deny the World
Stephen Henighan
ISBN 978-0-88984-240-3

‘It's the liveliest, most cogently argued, most provocative and most infuriatingly self-satisfied work of literary criticism to be published in this country in at least the last decade. Consequently, it's a must-read for anyone with even the slightest interest in either the literature or the culture of Canada—professional and general reader alike.’

—Robert Reid, Kitchener-Waterloo Record

Buy in print at AbeBooks.com Buy at Google

 

Facsimiles of Time
Facsimiles of Time
Eric Ormsby
ISBN 978-0-88984-226-7

‘It's admirable criticism and scholarship, ... but with the added dimensions of a poet's working knowledge, of fluent multilingual abilities, and a determined search for the almost sacramental autonomy of word and form. It's a heady brew.’

—Chris Wiseman, Books in Canada

Buy in print at AbeBooks.com Buy at Google

 

This Is Our Writing
This Is Our Writing
T. F. Rigelhof
ISBN 978-0-88984-218-2

‘Over the last decade, The Porcupine's Quill has developed a minor specialty in publishing cantankerous books that challenge the complacency of Canadian literary commentary.... Now comes T.F. Rigelhof's This Is Our Writing, which asks the bracing and necessary question: What is truly good in Canadian fiction and what is merely trendy and popular?’

—Jeet Heer, The National Post

Buy in print at AbeBooks.com Buy at Google

 

Ripostes
Ripostes
Philip Marchand
ISBN 978-0-88984-196-3

‘In Philip Marchand's hands, Ripostes is a book of necessary answers to the Professor Panglosses of Canadian letters. You know, the ones who ejaculate “Atwood” and “Ondaatje” as answers to any suggestion that things aren't just fine and dandy in CanLitLand—the best of all possible post-colonial, post-patriarchal, post-modern book worlds. Ripostes is going to aggravate, annoy, gall, irk, miff, peeve, rankle, vex and just generally bug quite a few people. It thoroughly delights me.’

Toronto Star

Buy in print at AbeBooks.com Buy at Google

 

An Independent Stance
An Independent Stance
W. J. Keith
ISBN 978-0-88984-121-5

‘The study of English literature (and, by forced alliance, Canadian literature) is beset by “isms”. Critical obfuscation is rampant. And the secondary text, not the primary, is now idolized. But here and there a reactionary voice is heard, and none more powerful and insistent than that of Keith, whose stance, though independent, is thankfully not unique.’

—R.G. Moyles, Canadian Book Review Annual

Buy in print at AbeBooks.com Buy at Google

 

Recovering Canada's First Novelist
Recovering Canada's First Novelist
Catherine Ross
ISBN 978-0-88984-067-6

‘An introduction, six papers from the conference at the University of Western Ontario and a brief biographical note constitute the first “full scale scholarly examination” of Canada's earliest novelist. But neither the editor nor her team of biographer, textual critic, literary historian and literary critics are under any delusions; to reconstruct the life, work and reputation of the mercurial Major John Richardson after one hundred years of comparative neglect is not the work of a single moment, nor of a single conference.’

—David Richards, British Journal of Canadian Studies

Buy in print at AbeBooks.com Buy at Google

 

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.