Carmine Starnino has written the first useful book about poetry that we have been given in this country. A Lover’s Quarrel (Porcupine’s Quill) is a big collection (some 260 pages) of essays and reviews in which the author struggles heroically to think and speak intelligently about what is wrong with most Canadian poetry, and by implication most Canadian “creative” writing. His subjects are addressed nowhere else in the so-called critical literature of the nation, which consists almost entirely of thematic commentary. The result is that our good writing (and there is some very good writing here, but no tradition of good writing) is submerged in the conspiracy of medocrity that covers over our literature and renders it homogeneous and boring. One of the prevailing symptoms of this literary malaise is the conviction (many decades old now) that the influence of the British and American traditions threatens to diminish (“pure”) Canadian literature, which must protect itself from their nefarious effects. Such a view results in a literature that emerges not from the language, the enormous resource available to all speakers of a language, but from an ideology, a set of colonial ideas that were outworn and noxious a hundred years ago. Such a literature is the Canadian equivalent of socialist realism, and today finds its sponsor in the Creative Writing Industry, which has grown to vast proportions and threatens to overwhelm literature completely.