While Canadian poetic practices have steadily pluralised since the early 1960s, the poetry review has remained stubbornly constant. You Must Work Harder to Write Poetry of Excellence is a critical, and at times hilarious survey of reviews of innovative Canadian poetry in English since 1961. What is at stake in the reviewing of poetry? What fantasies are inherent to the practice? How is poetry itself produced in the reviewing of poetry? Why has the reviewing of poetry remained largely invisible to self-reflexive critique? These are some of the many questions You Must Work Harder to Write Poetry of Excellence dares to ask in its query to determine if poetry reviewers can claim to have the authority the imagine they have over their chosen subject. As a retort to the retrograde trend that is poetry reviewing in Canada, You Must Work Harder to Write Poetry of Excellence is the first book to detail the production and structure of an "aesthetic conscience" and demonstrate how this functions as the dynamic administrative apparatus of any aesthetic ideology. In short, this book opens for the first time a new and desperately needed channel in Canadian criticism.
This lively, engagingly written, and theoretically sophisticated study takes a provocatively pointed look at postmodern Canadian poetry through the revealing lenses of its reviews: their ideological and moral blindspots, their lamented critical belatedness, and the "ongoing positions war" of their canonization practices. Mancini's theorizing of the "aesthetic conscience" and his astute analysis of the discourse of the "craft" of poetry are major additions to the critical work on reviewing. This is a "must" for anyone interested in Canadian poetry - and reviewing.
- Linda Hutcheon, Author of The Canadian Postmodern; A Poetics of Postmoderism: History, Theory, Fiction; The Politics of Postmodernism.
Donato Mancini makes visual and procedural poetry, bookworks and visual art. His books and chapbooks include: Snowline (2015), Buffet World (2011) Fact 'N' Value (2011), Hell Passport no.22 (2008), Æthel (2007), 58 Free Coffees (2006) and Ligatures (2005). Notable exhibitions of Mancini’s visual artworks have included exhibitions through Artspeak, Western Front, Gallery Atsui, Malaspina Printmaker's Society, and CSA. He performed with Gabriel Saloman in their noisepoetry/noisecomedy/noisemusic ensemble in the 2013 LIVE! Biennale of performance art, and as part of Concrete Scores at Open Space. Mancini's published critical writing includes work on the archive, time and memory in Anamnesia: Unforgetting (2011), and a discourse analysis of poetry reviews in You Must Work Harder to Write Poetry of Excellence (2012). His previous full-length book, Loitersack (2014), is a labyrinthine commonplace book where critical, theoretical and paraliterary tendencies intersect in the forms of poetry, poetics, theory, theory theatre, laugh particles and many many questions. He holds a doctorate in English from the University of British Columbia.
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