As we progress through the Essays and Reviews section, we discover in Wells a thorough reader and masterful critic. Poets he takes down a notch with his trenchant pen include perennial favourites Don MacKay (“His poems are fun, smart, easy to like. But like a stranger you meet on a train, I don’t think much about them afterwards”), Anne Simpson (“a tourist in the realms of human misery and suffering”), and Patrick Lane (“singing the sadsack song of his self-image”). But in all cases, he does indicate strengths of said poets, although I think his assessment of Simpson could have been more balanced. Lengthy essays that take up the cause of unjustly neglected poets like Peter Van Toorn and Peter Sanger, as well as an award-winning piece on Bruce Taylor, are standouts. The poets’ work is quoted fully enough that we gain direct experience of what these poets are like.