Season Two of The Negative Review

Table of Contents:

Ryan Fitzpatrick’s Rocky Mountain Opportunity

How the Hell Did Rob Winger Get Published by Dionne Brand? A Tetraptych

Staring and Sharing: I Give Best Canadian Poetry 2021 a 1/3 Pea Rating on Goodpeas (max 5 peas)

Guest Columnist, John Nyman: The Topic of Whiteness in Canadian Poetry

Guest Columnist, Carl Watts: Reviewing Reviewing

Runaway Griffin Jury 2022

Imaginary Griffin 2022 Conversations

Wednesday, April 27, 2022 the book of smaller

Call this an avant review Part I: review of Acorn/Bissett I Want to Tell You Love

Call this an avant review Part II: hot take on the Canisia Lubrin-Dionne Brand interview in The Yale Review

Can Kevin Connolly Do Anything Right? A Review of (Kevin Connolly’s editing of) Bardia Sinaee’s Intruder

Maybe . . . Recuse? A Review of George Elliott Clarke’s J’Accuse . . .!

See previous posts on this site for descriptions of Unfit Criticism volumes 1-4. The Negative Review Season Two is Unfit Criticism Vol. 5. Due to unexpectedly impressive sales, I am only releasing the volumes as a set and I doubt there will be any left to distribute to academic libraries, which was my original plan. Price is $2500 for all five books.

Season II of The Negative Review

October 2021: A guest post by John Nyman on exploring whiteness in Canadian poetry. 

November 2021: A guest post by Carl Watts on modes of reviewing in Canadian poetry. 

December 2021: Shane Neilson reviews a wokester’s book as the wokester would have, had he not gone respectable for the year his book was out. 

January 2022: Part 1 of a long essay on Rob Winger’s selection by Dionne Brand

February 2022: Part II of that long essay. (Total of both pieces, about 10,000 words) 

March 2022: An essay on Best Canadian Poetry 2021

April 2022: A review of Bardia Sinaee’s Intruder, as ruined by Kevin Connolly. 

May 2022: A review of rob mclennan’s Book of Smaller in his own style, as well as a parody of the 2022 Griffin jury deliberations

June-July 2022: Runaway Griffin Jury

What’s next? I play my cards close to my chest, this being the internet and all. Lots of fun though.

Subscription is $10/mo or $100 / year; each previous month’s content is scrubbed when a new month is uploaded. Sign up here, only paying subscribers can read.

Tour for YOU MAY NOT TAKE (with Jim Johnstone & the superlative Infinity Mirror)

Dates past:

London at TAP Creativity March 24 2022

Toronto at Knife:Fork:Book March 27 2022


Kingston April 13 2022 7 PM Novel Idea POSTPONED FOR SUMMER

Montreal April 19 2022 6:30 PM LE RESERVOIR, 2nd Floor 9 Av. Duluty E.

Fredericton April 20 2022 6:30 PM Gallery on Queen

Petitcodiac Public Library April 21 2022 time 12 noon

Moncton Attic Owl Series April 21 2022 C’est La Vie Cafe 6 PM

Halifax Eve of Poetry Series April 22 2022 Halifax Public Library 7:30 PM

Two new chapbooks!

In December, my friend Jim Johnstone published For the Living, a chapbook concerning . . . living persons! You can order it here.

In October, my friends at swallow::tale press published Revolutionary Doctrine of the True Faith. It’s WILD! And beautifully produced by Feyxuan who really knocks things out of the park, design-wise. Think of them when you’re book-ing! Order it here or if in Canada write me direct. Oh, and the chapbook was reviewed already at the mighty Wordgathering! My gratitude to Diane Wiener!

Upcoming events Spring 2022!

Hi there! I have a few unique book promotional things to tell you about for You May Not Take the Sad and Angry Consolations, my newest baby due out from Goose Lane Editions in like a month or so!!!

1. Cross-Pollinations, League of Canadian Poets, reading w/ S.K. Hughes: Feb 23 2022, 6 pm ET, register here.

In this event, I’m doing something I don’t think has been done before. S.K. Hughes reads poems that are structured around their developmental stage of medical training, and I’m reading from an unpublished lyric essay that critiques the use of poetry in medical spaces from the perspective of practitioner and disabled bodymind, also from the perspective of developmental stage. It’ll be weird! What I’m reading is more poetry than essay. Do register on the link provided below! There’s lots here for both poets and medical types. And if you haven’t already, and might be so inclined, please do consider preordering You May Not Take.

I’m anticipating this event very much, for I’ve never been able to critique medicine to its face with poetry before, using twenty five years of a poetry practice to inform this argument: hey, medicine, you’ve got it all wrong. But it’s okay. Just let poetry be itself and everything will be okay.

2. “Articulating the Body: Ekphrasis in the Maude Abbott Medical Museum” is a McGill-based in-person event I’m running in conjunction with the Poetry Matters team. March 10 2022, 5-7 pm. Sign up here. Tell all your friends in Montreal!

3. March 24 2022, 8-10 pm EST. I’m participating at AWP as part of the “Rad Reading Series” thanks to Swallow::tale, Newfound, and ANMLY. Sign up using code on the sheet. My first big boy pants AWP reading, yay!

4. EAST COAST TOUR in late April! Details tba. IN PERSON

Unfit Criticism 4: The Negative Review

In August of 2020, Shane Neilson created The Negative Review on the e-newsletter program Substack. Acquiring more subscribers than he ever dreamed of for an esoteric site devoted to critical prose about Canadian poetry, Neilson delivered a detailed piece each month. He questioned “scandal” as currently constructed in CanLit, pushed back against shame politics, wondered why so many mediocre white Canadian male poets were releasing Selected volumes at a time of diversity in Canadian literature, and even dared to write a negative review about Dionne Brand.

The Negative Review (ShanCor Enterprises, 2021) covers/mentions the following writers: 

Alden Nowlan, Northrop Frye, Sherrie Malisch, D.G. Jones, Margaret Atwood, John Moss, Russell Brown, Frank Davey, Barry Cameron, Michael Dixon, Smaro Kamboureli, Paul Barrett, Robert Lecker, Terry Eagleton, James Doyle, Sabine Milz, Sam Weselowski, Douglas Murray, William Giraldi, Lucy Alford, Matthew Zapruder, Rita Felski, Michael Lista, M. Travis Lane, Zachariah Wells, Jason Guriel, Carmine Starnino, James Pollack, Robyn Sarah, Dane Swan, A.F. Moritz, Jody Chan, Ali Blythe, John Elizabeth Stinzi, Manahil Bandukwala, Dennis M. Lewis, Eric Miller, Laura Moss, Karina Vernon, Aislinn Clare McDougall, Sarah Dowling, Gwen Benaway, Cassandra Blanchard, Nick Bradley, Nyla Matuk, Andrew Dubois, Marc di Saverio, Paul Vermeersch, Jay MillAR, Carmine Starnino, Dionne Brand, Canisa Lubrin.

The Negative Review contains the following essays:

  1. Return of Thematic
  2. We Shall Know You By Your Reviews: The Woke White Male and Alden Nowlan’s Collected Poems
  3. Spoiled Identity and the Frozen Now
  4. Crito Revolta: On Marc di Saverio’s Crito di Volta (Toronto: Guernica, 2020)
  5. The Missing Vision in the Visionary: Shared Universe: New and Selected Poems 1995 – 2020 (Toronto: ECW Press, 2020) As Some Generic DystopiaTM.
  6. He Doesn’t Look Like a Poet: On Jay MillAr’s I Could Have Pretended to Be Better Than You (Vancouver: Anvil, 2019)
  7. Like My Dad, Rapping: A Review of Carmine Starnino’s Leviathan (Kentville: Gaspereau, 2020)
  8. Dionne Brand is the Most Powerful Poet in Canada and No Negative Reviews are Permitted, This Message will Self-Destruct in Five Seconds Beep: A Review-Essay on Doomscrolling in Dionne Brand’s The Blue Clerk (McClelland and Stewart, 2019)
  9. The Rebranding: Canisia Lubrin’s The DyzgraphXst (McClelland and Stewart, 2020)
  10. Why Woke CanLit Twitter Matchmade Me and Holy Wild (Toronto: Bookhug, 2018). 
  11. The Protest is This Way: The Problem with Watch Your Head: Writers and Artists Respond to the Climate Crisis (Toronto: Coach House, 2020.)
  12. The Neilson Ratings: A Big Lie Whites Tell Themselves So That They Can Hoard Social Capital Instead of Awards

If you’re interested in purchasing copies (only serious queries), then use the message function on this site. $500 per book, $1250 for all 4 in the series. If you are a Canadian university library, I’m afraid only one university per province will be allocated a copy (with one exception). I hope it was you!

Unfit Criticism 3: Marginal

The third in a unique series of critical texts by Shane Neilson, Marginal includes material intended for Margin of Interest (PQL, 2019), the author’s book of literary criticism on the English language poetry of the Maritimes. The work collected in Marginal is not secondary or inferior to the earlier PQL text, as Neilson intended the original to be a two-volume project. Marginal is a realization of that vision.

Marginal covers/mentions the following writers and makers: M. Travis Lane, Wayne Clifford, Peter Sanger, Milton Acorn, Alden Nowlan, J.J. Steinfeld, David Helwig, Anne Compton, George Elliott Clarke, EJ Pratt, John Steffler, John Thompson, bp Nichol, Hermenegilde Chiasson, and David Brewer.

Marginal contains:

  1. Introduction
  2. How Not to Represent a Region: Coastlines and Overfishing
  3. The Backwards Sobriquet: A Review of New Brunswick at the Crossroads: Literary Ferment And Social Change in the East
  4. Regionalisms 1.0, 2.0, 3.0, and Beyond: Reading Maritime Poetry Anthologies Backward
  5. Foosty Boost: The First Two Books of Anne Compton
  6. Dr. Acorn, or: how I joined the Canadian Liberation Movement and learned to love the stern nurse fusion bomb sun
  7. We Shall Know You By Your Reviews: The Woke White Male & Alden Nowlan’s Collected Poems
  8. Heroes & Legends: Finding John Thompson with Peter Sanger
  9. Visiting Lane
  10. Visiting Wayne Clifford
  11. Crossing the Campus: Introduction to M. Travis Lane’s Heart on Fist
  12. Clifford the Not-Sonneteer
  13. A shared text is an act of friendship
  14. Math, Satire, and Sense: David Helwig’s Seawrack
  15. In Some More Distant Key: An Interview With David Helwig
  16. Time-Grammar and Second-Order Witnessing: On J. J. Steinfeld’s Identity Dreams and Memory Sounds
  17. Return to Scoudouc: A Review of Hermenegilde Chiasson’s To Live and Die in Scoudouc. Translated by Jo-Anne Elder
  18. Rabbittown Press, David Brewer, Prop.
  19. Obituary
  20. Angelic Salutation
  21. Idiosyncratic Notes on the Essays
  22. Acknowledgements


If you’re interested in purchasing copies (only serious queries), then use the message function on this site. $500 per book, $1250 for all 4 in the series. If you are a Canadian university library, I’m afraid only one university per province will be allocated a copy (with one exception). I hope it was you!