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!