Carmine Starnino

Carmine Starnino has published five collections of poetry, including This Way Out, which was nominated for the Governor General’s Award in 2009 and recently translated into French by Éditions Hashtag under the title Par Ici La Sortie. His most recent collection is Leviathan. His other books include The New Canon: An Anthology of Canadian Poetry and Lazy Bastardism, a collection of essays on contemporary poetry. He has received numerous awards, including the CAA Prize for Poetry, the A.M. Klein Prize for Poetry, and the F.G. Bressani Prize, in addition to being shortlisted for the Gerald Lampert Prize for the best first book of poetry. He lives in Montreal with his wife and three children.

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This Way Out
Carmine Starnino

2009 / Poetry / $18.95
9781554470518 / Trade paper / 80 pp

Carmine Starnino’s latest collection of poems is full of lyrical escapes, exits and embarkations that set out to measure degrees of belonging and proximity to being at home. With his close attention to sound and ease of comparison, Starnino tries on voices and costumes for size, revisiting his childhood stomping grounds and current neighbourhood bars, reliving teenage haircuts and marvelling at the skill of the local butcher. Counterbalancing his own search for place, Starnino delights in locating in other people and favourite objects their aptitude for simply being themselves.

“Nine from Rome” is a series of verse letters written to fellow poets during a sojourn in Italy. Here the poet tests the novelty of new sights and sounds against the sensibilities of his poetics. Inspired in part by the letters of Catullus, the series conjours sunny balconies, food markets and aqueducts, and revels in the escape from routine.

This Way Out closes with “The Strangest Things,” a series of those things for which, William Carlos Williams says, “One has emotions.” A particular fence post, the scent of a woman’s perfume in the Metro, a ball floating in a canal—contained in these are tangible moments of self-discovery. In some of his most candid work to date, Starnino reflects on his own attempts to hit a stride and secure a sense of belonging.

“As a child of immigrants, my sense of being lost between competing origins and tongues can be intense,” Starnino says. “What this in-betweenness often creates, rather unexpectedly, is a feeling of being set apart, of existing as a foreigner in one’s own country. What it also contributes to is a ‘several selves’ state: my life defined not only by the reality it inhabits, but also the potential existences it did not fulfill. This clash of geographical rootedness and psychological uprootedness is, in large part, what I wanted to explore in This Way Out. Whether the setting is the Italian north-end where I grew up, or the multi-ethnic Parc-Ex neighbourhood where my wife and I lived, or our six-month junket to Rome, the book expresses a nostalgia for a home in poems of linguistic restlessness, poems where the language always has somewhere else it wants to go. By using doubletalk and euphemism, subtext and suggestiveness, bilingual fluidity and impurities of diction, I wanted to write poems that could tell me who I was and where I belonged. Taking the hint from Northrop Frye’s famous question Where is here?, ‘here’—these new poems answer—is always ‘elsewhere’.”

Finalist for the 2009 Governor General’s Literary Award for Poetry.

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Other Books by this Author

Dirty Words: Selected Poems 1997-2016
Carmine Starnino

2020 / Canadian Poetry / $26.95 CAN
9781554472123 / Trade paper / 192 pp
Carmine Starnino

2016 / Poetry / $18.95 CAN
9781554471546 / Trade paper / 80 pp
Lazy Bastardism: Essays & Reviews on Contemporary Poetry
Carmine Starnino

2012 / Literary Criticism / $27.95 CAN
9781554471188 / Trade paper / 272 pp
With English Subtitles
Carmine Starnino

2004 / Poetry / $18.95 CAN
9781894031899 / Trade paper / 80 pp

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