Friday, August 16, 2019

new from above/ground press: FAKE FLOATING, by Jane Virginia Rohrer

Jane Virginia Rohrer

new city dark & I am slamming
those busses that bend
in the middle freak me out   the assault
of squeezing between headphone bodies
the streets I etch   hours into, a new city,
and then another one, another    each one
saying prove it

key knuckles   headlamp    man arms
I want to pretend to be home every new time
every carpet-walled liquor store   every
skinned knee running to the car
every cute boy in the coffee line every
hard stare in red lights   every
place begging transparent   but

I don’t care to usher in the poem’s access
sellable poem
brittle & boring    something
someone might pay for

and therefore know how to love
new city of immutable shapes
we are not idiots to time
I couldn’t quit looking at the meat of it
published in Ottawa by above/ground press
August 2019
a/g subscribers receive a complimentary copy

Cover design: Joseph Schmidt

Jane Virginia Rohrer is a writer and teacher from Southeastern Pennsylvania. She holds an MFA from the University of North Carolina, Wilmington and is currently pursuing a PhD at the University of Pittsburgh where she studies sound, radio, and contemporary poetry and poetics. Her creative work has appeared or is forthcoming in Peach Mag, Metatron, Bone Bouquet, and others.

To order, send cheques (add $1 for postage; in US, add $2; outside North America, add $5) to: rob mclennan, 2423 Alta Vista Drive, Ottawa ON K1H 7M9. E-transfer or PayPal at at rob_mclennan (at) or the PayPal button at

Thursday, August 15, 2019

report: the above/ground press 26th anniversary reading/launch/party!

Thanks so much to everyone who came out this past weekend to the above/ground press 26th anniversary reading/launch/party over at Vimy Brewing Company! (and can you believe the 26th anniversary BIG SUMMER SALE ends today? I mean, really...) It was a grand event, celebrating twenty-six years of continuous activity and nearly a thousand (so far) publications going all the way back to those wayward days of summer 1993 (according to a poster, the first official event was July 9, 1993, back before most of you, and now, a couple of above/ground press authors, were even born). I've posted a couple of reports over the years from anniversary events (but never as many as I probably should), including the 25th anniversary (but not the second one, from the ottawa international writers festival, unfortunately), the twenty-third anniversary (including the Toronto event that same year) and the nineteenth anniversary (where are the rest? oh, the days and the years get away from me). Thanks so much to everyone who came out to read, listen and otherwise assist and help celebrate! (and to Pearl and Brian Pirie, who were kind enough to provide photos.)

photo by Pearl Pirie
I wore my snappy "above/ground press" t-shirt produced for last year's event (by Troublemaker Print!) but couldn't get anyone to purchase any (although more than a couple of attendees and readers wore theirs from last year). You can dress like me! I offered. That's not a selling point! Anita Dolman kept yelling, from the back of the room. I disagree, obviously (might it have helped if I'd shaved? No time! No time).

Christine was, of course, home resting given her recent medical thingies, but otherwise well. But there were a great deal of others around to assist in the above/ground press mayhem, including natalie hanna (who kindly worked the door), Anita Dolman (who kindly worked the book table for the second year in a row), Robert Hogg, Roland Prevost, Janice Tokar, Stephen Brockwell, Jean Van Loon, Grant Savage, Michelle Desberats, Hugh Thomas and maria erskine, jwcurry and plenty of others. It was a good crowd.

photo by Pearl Pirie
The first reader of the evening was Marilyn Irwin, who read from her fourth above/ground press title (and ninth chapbook overall), the day the moon went away, a chapbook already being discussed as her strongest work-to-date. There is something really powerful happening in Irwin's poems these days; crafting a rawness into shapes that feel effortless, and serene (and so obviously are not).  

photo by Brian Pirie
Pearl Pirie launched Eldon, letters, her fifth above/ground press chapbook, made up of a chapbook-length epistle to her late father, which included photographs and other archive materials alongside a lyric prose composed directly to him, that loss and some unanswered questions. Pearl was, also, easily the best dressed in the room (an idea everyone in the room easily agreed with).

photo by Pearl Pirie
I was very taken with Stuart Ross' latest, NINETY TINY POEMS, which is his second above/ground press collection (have you seen the blog I curate celebrating the fortieth anniversary of his own chapbook enterprise, Proper Tales Press?). Composed of nine poems, each of which has ten tiny sections, he had joked that he was working on a manuscript of "one thousand tiny poems," which might not actually be completed (but held to this singular chapbook). After the reading, he said that the positive response to the poems and his reading made him reconsider this idea (I would be very interested to see how far he might be able to go with this; wouldn't you want to see what Ross could do with ONE THOUSAND TINY POEMS? Honestly: who wouldn't? And if someone wouldn't, would you even want to know that person?).

photo by Pearl Pirie
Stuart's reading bled directly into Conyer Clatyon's reading, as Conyer appeared at the podium for the sake of an improvised collaborative sound poem or two with Stuart, before Stuart left the stage, and sat down. And Conyer begin to read from her above/ground press debut, Trust Only the Beasts in the Water. There is something about Conyer's prose poems I'm quite fond of, the flow of them; and it makes me curious to see her full-length debut next year, appearing with Guernica Editions.

photo by Pearl Pirie
After a wee break, there was Kyle Kinaschuk, who was good enough to travel from Toronto to read from his chapbook debut, COLLECTIONS-14. Given I hadn't heard him read before, let alone hadn't actually met him yet, I was curious to hear how he might perform some of these works. He did a magnificent job, speaking a bit to the compositional process of writing poems prompted by his father's death, and the baffles he utilized for the poems, put together from details of his father's life. He had mentioned that this was one section of what might be a book-length quartet of sections, and I am very much looking forward to seeing what that might look like.

photo by Pearl Pirie
Hamilton writer Gary Barwin (who also has a chapbook press, serif of nottingham, which turns (or turned) thirty-four years old this year) read, as part of his set to launch Dust of the Wren: poems and translations, a selection of unpublished pieces, suggesting that part of the appeal of the chapbook form is the quick ease with which new work can be disseminated. I'm absolutely fascinated with Barwin's comfort in visual poetry and surrealist lyric even as he has become the author of bestselling fiction, with a new novel already slated with Random House for 2021; and did you know he has a selected poems out this fall? There is an awful lot going on with his work, so it is very exciting to see it finally being taken seriously.

photo by Pearl Pirie
One of my favourites is Kemptville poet Chris Turnbull, who has long been, quietly and confidently, working in large forms utilizing lyric, the fragment and visual elements against ecological concerns. Did you see the piece I did on her work for Jacket2 magazine a while back? This chapbook, contrite, is the second of a projected trio of linked works, following Candid, a title produced as part of one of the dusie kollektivs (a work that is available free online, also).
There. Don't you feel bad you missed it all now? We will just have to do another for next year, then!

And should I mention: the event was successful enough I immediately took three more chapbooks to the printer the following day? And am preparing two more?

And: watch this space for the announcement for 2020 above/ground press subscriptions, yes? Sometime over the next month or so. I mean: the press produced sixty-seven chapbooks last year, so the subscription rate is a pretty good deal, I must say...

Friday, August 9, 2019

new from above/ground press: Eldon, letters, by Pearl Pirie

Eldon, letters
Pearl Pirie

Those who have left

I want you to know that I remember Aunt Alice. She wouldn’t let me leave without some books, often slipped me some Fireside Books while we visited her. She was getting frail then. You knew her when she was a force to be reckoned with. How many times did you tell me that she saved your frost-bitten ears. She was mid-wife to your mom too. Your job as a young lad to take the cutter and go fetch her in the snow storm. So much responsibility for your young heart. I never asked. Which sister or brother was it being born? How old were you?

    too cold to wash
    smears from
    the window—
    my father
    would've been ninety

You heard Iona passed? It seems presumptuous to tell the dead who’s dead. But there sure are a lot of you.

Incoming – Harold too.

It is a crime that assisted suicide wasn’t allowed for so long. It is now 3000 have done it. He’s bedridden and has been for years. He’s blind and deaf. Jean goes from the senior’s home to see him every other day and Irene is doing the other days.

    your auctions receipts
    a memento from each old friend—
    broken stick

They had an estate auction, Sheila was telling me, of Harold’s farm. Sheila and I talked probably 45 minutes. A neighbour bought Harold’s tractor. Sorry, I forget which neighbour.

The woodshop was pulled out long ago. You and he talked a long time in there by sawdust and lathe. I turned them in my hands, beautiful golden curls.

    drawn out
    wood shavings

published in Ottawa by above/ground press
August 2019
a/g subscribers receive a complimentary copy

Pearl Pirie
has 3 poetry collections with a forthcoming in the fall of 2020 from Radiant Press. These haibun are unrelated to those. She gives workshops and readings sporadically. She lives in rural Quebec with her brilliant husband, scratchy cat and sweet dog. She can be found on twitter @pesbo and you can sign up for her mailing list at

This is Pirie’s fifth chapbook with above/ground press, after the oath in the boathouse (2008), vertigoheel for the dilly (2014), today’s woods (2014) and sex in sevens (2016).

[Pearl Pirie will be launching in Ottawa on August 10th as part of the above/ground press 26th anniversary launch/reading/party]

To order, send cheques (add $1 for postage; in US, add $2; outside North America, add $5) to: rob mclennan, 2423 Alta Vista Drive, Ottawa ON K1H 7M9. E-transfer or PayPal at at rob_mclennan (at) or the PayPal button at

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

new from above/ground press: contrite, by Chris Turnbull

Chris Turnbull

skip. rock.

                        a side-arm motion sets momentum or observation flittering.

                      here, rock, crow, hut, ice, creep, filter.

     shove land.
 coordinates hang.

we met at the waste-field


duplication is a dream.

published in Ottawa by above/ground press
August 2019
a/g subscribers receive a complimentary copy

Chris Turnbull
is the author of continua (Chaudiere Books 2015; now a homestay at Invisible Publishing 2019) and [ untitled ] in o w n (CUE Books 2014). She has published several chapbooks: Shingles (Thuja1999); continua 1-22 (above/ground 2010); and Candid (hawkweed 2019). Undertones, a collaboration with text/artist Bruno Neiva, is forthcoming in summer/fall 2019 with Low Frequency Press (Buffalo). Other visual and text based work and collaborations can be found online, in print, and within landscapes. She curates a footpress, rout/e, whereby poems are planted on trails: A collaborative chapbook with a rawlings, The Great Canadian (Low Frequency Press 2016), combined Turnbull’s photographs from rout/e with rawlings’ text from her ongoing echolology.

Candid was previously published as part of Dusie Kollective #8 and is also online at It is the first of three interconnected chapbooks. contrite follows Candid much like a riffle: “guess a spokesperson of it all” was published as a broadside in above/ground press’ 25th Anniversary collection (2019); other pieces were published in The Capilano Review 3.35 (Spring 2018) and Café Review (Spring 2019: ed. Bob Hogg).

This is her second chapbook with above/ground press, after continua 1-22 (2010).

[Chris Turnbull will be launching in Ottawa on August 10th as part of the above/ground press 26th anniversary launch/reading/party]

To order, send cheques (add $1 for postage; in US, add $2; outside North America, add $5) to: rob mclennan, 2423 Alta Vista Drive, Ottawa ON K1H 7M9. E-transfer or PayPal at at rob_mclennan (at) or the PayPal button at

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Jami Macarty reviews Conyer Clayton's TRUST ONLY THE BEASTS IN THE WATER (2019)

Jami Macarty was good enough to provide the first review of Conyer Clayton's TRUST ONLY THE BEASTS IN THE WATER (2019) over on Facebook via The Maynard; thanks so much! And of course she's launching this in Ottawa on Saturday at the big above/ground press 26th anniversary reading/launch/party!
Short-form Shout Out
(above/ground press, 2019)
by Jami Macarty, The Maynard Co-founder & Editor

Conyer Clayton’s chapbook of 23 prose poems navigates the central question: “How did we get here?” Whether coming to terms with physical trauma--“the car is there, tipping over the mud in slow motion”--or psychological trauma (related to childhood/family of original) --“My mac-and-cheese is cold. If I complain about it, I’m never allowed to eat it again”--the poems track how the psyche, at the various levels of consciousness, digests trauma and “process[es] what we take in” while alive in a world where “Every moment is an edge we nearly stumble off of.” The primary il/logic moving within the poems is that of dreams, where “We float like apples down dirty streets and... The concept of density has never actually mattered.” There’s grieving levity, there’s intelligent heart in these poems on their road that “winds perpetually upward and eternally downward and hopefully.”

#TheMaynard #TMViewsSeries #TMreview #TMShortformShoutouts #abovegroundpress #poetry #readpoetry