Carmine Starnino

 Carmine Starnino, poet, editor, literary critic (born at Montreal, PQ 29 Sept 1970). Carmine Starnino was born and raised in Montreal to a family of Italian immigrants, and received his MA in 2000 at CONCORDIA UNIVERSITY. He still resides in the city of his birth.

Carmine Starnino has published four acclaimed books of POETRY. The New World (1997) was shortlisted for the Gerald Lampert Memorial Award and the QSPELL Prize for Poetry, and was selected as one of QUILL & QUIRE's Best Books of 1997. 2000 saw the publication of Credo, which won the CANADIAN AUTHORS ASSOCIATION Award for Poetry, and the David McKeen Award. With English Subtitles followed in 2004, winning the A.M. KLEIN Award for Poetry and the F.G. BRESSANI Prize for poetry (2006). This Way Out (2009) was nominated for a GOVERNOR GENERAL'S LITERARY AWARD for Poetry and won the A.M. Klein Award for Poetry. Starnino has also published A Lover's Quarrel (2004), a collection of reviews and essays, and is the editor of The New Canon: An Anthology of Canadian Poetry (2005). His work as an editor has included stints at BOOKS IN CANADA, Maisonneuve Magazine, and Reader's Digest Canada. He is the poetry editor for Vehicule Press, for imprint Signal Editions.

Starnino has earned a place of prominence in Canadian letters with an irascible style of provocative and occasionally confrontational criticism and debate in defense of formalist technique and principles. This contentious reputation - his willingness to engage in sharp criticism, often bordering on personal effrontery - has had the unfortunate side effect of drawing attention away from his poetic achievement. His peers, friend and foe alike, however, are well aware of his evocative and richly musical poetic gifts.

Starnino has claimed in his 2010 article "Lazy Bastardism: A Notebook," that he inherited from his immigrant family a strong distrust of books. He occasionally wrestles with his own family's immigrant experiences: his poem "What Do You Call This?" is an appreciation of the curved knife (rongetta) his grandfather uses to slice chunks of cheese and fruit, while the speaker uses his own as a pencil sharpener. The use is immaterial; the knife (or, more precisely, its Italian name) is the thing that connects grandfather and grandson to each other within their culture, and to their places in the world. The poem "Dear Michael" also celebrates a sense of presence and connection in the memory of a weekend spent with a friend: "If, as Nietzsche said, we should try to live/ always in expectation of some impossible grace,/ well, one couldn't do better than this place." Aligned as he is with formalist expression, Starnino's collection This Way Out exhibits a mastery that has become flexible and engaging enough to embrace more experimental works such as the prose poem "Heavenography," which speaks of "working-class clouds making tracks on the working class."

The provocative nature of Starnino's criticism has mellowed considerably as he has matured. His vital re-assessment of Canadian poetic achievement, as presented in A Lover's Quarrel and his selections of poets for The New Canon, gives indication of becoming a new academic standard. It is his poetry, however, that exemplifies this standard.

See alsoITALIANS; ITALIAN CANADIAN WRITING.