Friday, August 18, 2017

new from above/ground press: Lady Lazarus Redux, by Amanda Earl

Lady Lazarus Redux
Amanda Earl
$5

Part Nine: The Peanut-Crunching Crowd

Now I have lost myself, I am sick of baggage.
        Sylvia Plath, Tulips

1

Pain thrusts me out of a good dream. I lick sweat from my upper lip, the white hot stab into my spine, a knife blade of agony, metal scorch. I slouch too much. My posture is bad. A ghost has told me so.

2

I inherited this gloom from Victorian ancestors, my father’s sister locked in the attic for loving  a boy, starved herself to death. Who knows what else weighs down my genealogy. I imagine a deep lake surrounded by fog, dark clouds rising. A solitary figure rowing toward mountains of slate with traces of blood in the rock.

3

I type out near-naked optimism but the words are vulnerable. They fall off the page. Leaving only SOS in Morse Code.

4

Days when the fringe is salvation from unbleached gullibility. I continue as other. Your counterpart alien. Our skin doesn’t fit. It covers up our sparks.

5

The close bite of regret because I can’t love anyone who blows their trumpet, worn out, no longer shining. I won’t settle. I inflame. I pick the orange card from the deck: synonym for burning.

6

I enlarge photographs of murdered temperaments. Close up of a snapped wing, contorted torso unfeathered and naked, a gaping mouth in madder red, its last sound bludgeoned.

7

Cannot control outer turbulence. Heaven doesn’t want me. Demons gnaw at my anxiety, a tasty gizzard. I am offal, leftover heart and spleen, undesirable and cheap.

8

Let’s be lovers in soft focus. Triangulate our mutual terror for a selfie.

9

A stream of fear-mongering invective rules the Internet. For a quarter century I thrived off grid. I don’t mean to suggest it was perfect. I ran away daily from the family red-brick. Angsty bike-rides where I fell on gravel, the relief of scraped knees. Wounds I could see.

10

Flashes of heat and cold and insight and melancholy and temper and focus. This mercurial age. Look forward to a decade of mood swings, says the fortune cookie. Lucky Numbers: 10, 65, 100.


Afterword

This work is a guided remix. I collected 300 nouns from Gwendolyn MacEwen’s Volume One, the Early Years, and Adrienne Rich’s Collected Poems; 300 verbs from Anne Sexton’s Selected Poems and 300 qualifiers from Sylvia Plath’s Collected Poems.  I placed each category into bowls and drew index cards like one would Tarot cards, to tell the fortune of the speaker of the poem, a woman in her fifties who is entering menopause. As Jack Spicer has said in his reference to the French poet René Char: “There’s plenty of fudging that’s allowed in this kind of thing. But the old thing that René Char said, he said that the poet should have a sign on his wall saying, ‘CHEAT AT THIS GAME.’”   I used the words I pulled from the bowls either directly or came up with an associated image. In the editing process, some of these disappeared; some were added. I went through the bowls ten times and wrote ten poems for each pass. The number 10, in numerology is a symbol of change. In Hebrew it is the number from which all things come and to which all things must return. In the Kabala it is the Tree of Life and represents an old soul. Each suit in the minor arcana of a tarot deck has ten cards. Section titles represent the major arcana: people, animals and things from Sylvia Plath’s Lady Lazarus. I envisage tarot-card-like drawings for each section. Quotes from each section are from Sylvia Plath’s “Ariel,” a book I reread again and again because it haunts me.
I chose to work with the vocabulary and imagery of Plath, McEwen, Sexton and Rich for reasons other than just that I admire their writing and the topics they wrote about as women resonated for this project: Plath committed suicide the year of my birth. McEwen died at age 46, which is how old I was when I almost died. Sexton died in October, the month of my birth. Rich used her poetry to fight against women’s oppression, an oppression I notice keenly as I age.

published in Ottawa by above/ground press
August 2017
a/g subscribers receive a complimentary copy

Amanda Earl
is an Ottawa writer, publisher and visual poet. She’s the managing editor of Bywords.ca and the fallen angel of AngelHousePress. More information is available at AmandaEarl.com.

This is Earl’s fifth chapbook with above/ground press, after Eleanor (2007), The Sad Phoenician’s Other Woman (2008), Sex First & Then A Sandwich (2012) and A Book of Saints (2015).

[Produced for the above/ground press 24th anniversary reading/launch/party! Thursday, August 31, 2017]

To order, send cheques (add $1 for postage; outside Canada, add $2) to: rob mclennan, 2423 Alta Vista Drive, Ottawa ON K1H 7M9 or paypal at www.robmclennan.blogspot.com

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

new from above/ground press: Ornithology, by Kristina Drake

Ornithology
Kristina Drake
$5

Today, I sat perched atop a cold bench, my feet on the seat, my bum on the narrow back, surrounded by deep snow reflecting the whitest light.
On the frozen lake, fishermen dipped their rods, a pickup truck drove along the track across the bay, and the wind was still.

Somewhere off to the side, my husband crouched with his camera to capture the detail of a leaf.

I looked around – at pale lichen on a tree trunk, the undulating crust of snow – until the brightness made my eyes water and squint. I tilted my head back, closed my eyes and let the sun warm my face.

From not far off, a robin sang and took flight.
published in Ottawa by above/ground press
August 2017
a/g subscribers receive a complimentary copy

Kristina Drake
writes and edits in the wilderness of East Hawkesbury, Ontario. Her poems have previously appeared in Carte Blanche, Soliloquies and Yalla!, as an above/ground press broadside, and as a Tuesday poem on Dusie.

[Produced for the above/ground press 24th anniversary reading/launch/party! Thursday, August 31, 2017]


To order, send cheques (add $1 for postage; outside Canada, add $2) to: rob mclennan, 2423 Alta Vista Drive, Ottawa ON K1H 7M9 or paypal at www.robmclennan.blogspot.com

Monday, August 14, 2017

new from above/ground press: GHOSTS, by Stephanie Bolster

GHOSTS
Stephanie Bolster
$5

GHOSTS


Just south of the Canadian border, what’s left
of Bolster’s ninety log houses, the few hopes
no wolf gusted down.
Little to live on, but much to live for.

Three stores, post office, assay office, newspaper
called “The Bolster Drill,” several
saloons, Doctor Beale’s office,
and a three-story hotel. 


One year later, there goes the mine.

No one goes.
It was never much. Nothing
to do with me.



Prehistoric Gardens
newly restored all the dinosaurs
already 14 years old when I was born
still there in the streambeds in the ferns
the Pteranadon with its 27 foot wingspan
as dead as ever the skunk cabbage
as stinking yellow the gift shop
stocked with by-the-scoop
stones gleaming like that Ichthyosaur’s
eye by the gleaming stream
by the Oregon coast.



Farther south Paul Bunyan and Babe
outside the restaurant
we used to visit did we ever
go beyond the shop
what was there there? Trees
of Mystery, California’s premier
nature attraction on the North coast.


That filtered light on paths and trunks.

The site shows rooms of First Peoples’
arts and artefacts I don’t remember seeing.
Called End of the Trail Museum.
published in Ottawa by above/ground press
August 2017
a/g subscribers receive a complimentary copy

Stephanie Bolster
has published four books of poetry, the first of which, White Stone: The Alice Poems, won the Governor General's and the Gerald Lampert Awards in 1998. Her latest book, A Page from the Wonders of Life on Earth (Brick Books, 2011) was a finalist for the Pat Lowther Award. Work from her current manuscript-in-progress, Long Exposure, from which this chapbook is also drawn, was a finalist for the Canada Writes/CBC Poetry Prize in 2012. Editor of The Best Canadian Poetry in English 2008 and co-editor of Penned: Zoo Poems, she was born in Vancouver and teaches creative writing at Concordia University in Montréal.

This is Stephanie Bolster’s fourth above/ground press chapbook, after the original Three Bloody Words (1996), Biodome (2006) and Three Bloody Words: Twentieth Anniversary Edition (2016).

[Produced for the above/ground press 24th anniversary reading/launch/party! Thursday, August 31, 2017]

To order, send cheques (add $1 for postage; outside Canada, add $2) to: rob mclennan, 2423 Alta Vista Drive, Ottawa ON K1H 7M9 or paypal at www.robmclennan.blogspot.com

Friday, August 11, 2017

new from above/ground press: a Baltic Friday early in grey, by Adele Graf

a Baltic Friday early in grey
Adele Graf
$5


to cool surmises where house met criteria
we or printer’s they their with
beautiful swelled the yeshiva time
eastern history
escape family later children Latvia

their amazing were killed to met the possible
any there after family and passed
became again front even any there Latvian
wouldn’t he home
what inside prison that the visitors see
in its to it deep mind
a Baltic Friday early in grey

still I the bells shudder impressions
English in Ventspils
that into we will life was
could I even
was me a eighth to incomprehensible

voyage for death
family ours gas
could Ventspils and children one brother
time life I record incorrectly
soul at a bag worked continually
I autobiography left old enough
published in Ottawa by above/ground press
August 2017
a/g subscribers receive a complimentary copy

Adele Graf’s
poems have appeared in many Canadian journals including The Antigonish Review, CV2, The Dalhousie Review, The Fiddlehead, Room and Vallum. Her first poetry collection, math for couples, was published this spring by Guernica Editions.

[Produced for the above/ground press 24th anniversary reading/launch/party! Thursday, August 31, 2017]

To order, send cheques (add $1 for postage; outside Canada, add $2) to: rob mclennan, 2423 Alta Vista Drive, Ottawa ON K1H 7M9 or paypal at www.robmclennan.blogspot.com

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

the above/ground press 24th anniversary reading/launch/party!

above/ground press presents readings and other such by an array of poets:
Stephanie Bolster (Montreal)
Adele Graf (Ottawa)
Kristina Drake (East Hawkesbury)
Amanda Earl (Ottawa)
+ rob mclennan (Ottawa)
lovingly hosted by above/ground press author and Apt 9 Press editor/publisher Cameron Anstee
7:30pm door/8pm reading
Thursday, August 31, 2017
Backdrop Food & Drink
160 Metcalfe Street, Ottawa
http://www.thebackdrop.ca/

$5 at the door; includes a copy of a recent above/ground press title


Stephanie Bolster has published four books of poetry, the first of which, White Stone: The Alice Poems, won the Governor General's and the Gerald Lampert Awards in 1998. Her latest book, A Page from the Wonders of Life on Earth (Brick Books, 2011) was a finalist for the Pat Lowther Award. Work from her current manuscript-in-progress, Long Exposure, from which this chapbook is also drawn, was a finalist for the Canada Writes/CBC Poetry Prize in 2012. Editor of The Best Canadian Poetry in English 2008 and co-editor of Penned: Zoo Poems, she was born in Vancouver and teaches creative writing at Concordia University in Montréal.

She will be launching the chapbook GHOSTS.

This is Stephanie Bolster’s fourth above/ground press chapbook, after the original Three Bloody Words (1996), Biodome (2006) and Three Bloody Words: Twentieth Anniversary Edition (2016). She also appeared in the fifth issue of the long poem magazine STANZAS (April 1995).

Adele Graf’s poems have appeared in many Canadian journals including The Antigonish Review, CV2, The Dalhousie Review, The Fiddlehead, Room and Vallum. Her first poetry collection, math for couples, was published this spring by Guernica Editions.

She will be launching the chapbook a Baltic Friday early in grey.

Kristina Drake writes and edits in the wilderness of East Hawkesbury, Ontario. Her poems have previously appeared in Carte Blanche, Soliloquies and Yalla!, as an above/ground press broadside, and as a Tuesday poem on Dusie.

She will be launching the chapbook Ornithology.

Amanda Earl is an Ottawa writer, publisher and visual poet. She’s the managing editor of Bywords.ca and the fallen angel of AngelHousePress. More information is available at AmandaEarl.com.

She will be launching the chapbook Lady Lazarus Redux.

This is Earl’s fifth chapbook with above/ground press, after Eleanor (2007), The Sad Phoenician’s Other Woman (2008), Sex First & Then A Sandwich (2012) and A Book of Saints (2015).

Born in Ottawa, Canada’s glorious capital city, rob mclennan currently lives in Ottawa, where he is home full-time with the two wee girls he shares with Christine McNair. The author of more than thirty trade books of poetry, fiction and non-fiction, he won the John Newlove Poetry Award in 2010, the Council for the Arts in Ottawa Mid-Career Award in 2014, and was longlisted for the CBC Poetry Prize in 2012. In March, 2016, he was inducted into the VERSe Ottawa Hall of Honour. His most recent titles include The Uncertainty Principle: stories, (Chaudiere Books, 2014) and the poetry collection A perimeter (New Star Books, 2016). He has two poetry collections forthcoming: Life Sentence (Flat Singles Press, 2018) and Household items (Salmon Poetry, 2018). An editor and publisher, he runs above/ground press, Chaudiere Books (with Christine McNair), The Garneau Review, seventeen seconds: a journal of poetry and poetics, Touch the Donkey and the Ottawa poetry pdf annual ottawater. He is “Interviews Editor” at Queen Mob’s Teahouse, a regular contributor to the Ploughshares blog, and an editor/managing editor of many gendered mothers. He spent the 2007-8 academic year in Edmonton as writer-in-residence at the University of Alberta, and regularly posts reviews, essays, interviews and other notices at robmclennan.blogspot.com

He will be launching the chapbook It's still winter.

This is mclennan's millionth chapbook with above/ground press. There are too many to list.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Rebecca Anne Banks reviews Sarah Fox's Invisible Wife (2017)

Rebecca Anne Banks was good enough to review Sarah Fox's Invisible Wife (2017) over at Subterranean Blue Poetry. Thanks, Rebecca! This is actually the second review of Invisible Wife, after Greg Bem's review over at Yellow Rabbit. You can see Banks' original review here.
A dance with the carousel, Invisible Wife, a symbolist dance that lives on the edge of ecstatic experience, a woman’s scream that bangs in the New Age Renaissance Republic of poetry. Sarah Fox (Poet, writer, teacher, astrologer, worker, placenta encapsulator, artist, grandmother, resister) lives and writes in Minneapolis. She has published two books with Coffee House Press.

The cover of this Chapbook is an excellent introduction, an art nouveau piece, the head of a woman seems to be screaming over enlarged legs, and if you look again, in a trick of the light, it looks like she is a dancer with arms in an arc over her head. Both states are intertwined in this Art Nouveau poetry Chapbook, at once a protest at the state of power conundrums that hurt us and at the same time a dance with darkness, light and the state of serial relationships.

The poetry begins with a poem about Frida Kahlo, as if spinning mythologies and stories, about the Symbolist painter who was in a severe trolley accident and spent a lot of time in a body cast, painting from her bed. A controversial relationship with the painter Diego, Frida Kahlo did not have any children although she had several miscarriages.
“Don’t take the bus. Order burritos.

In Mexico City and Chiapas, women’s

rights. In Frida Kahlo, Diego. In Diego,

Marxism and a few babies.”
Poet Fox is spinning a symbolist poetry confection with edge, a blue rendition of a song.

The title itself, Invisible Wife, touches on the lost woman inside the darkness of her husband’s psyche, his power and his disconnect, someone not fully in her power, at the behest of the patriarchy. He is represented by snake imagery and as someone lost in a forest, suggesting violence. The wife is redemption, “My heart is also invisible, to me. But it sings in tune.”

Symbolist imagery of the goddess, the crone, nature, the body, birth, death and dancing, this poetry sings. Cadence is achieved through repetition, and spins into dialectic, spins into wholeness, spins into magic. A truthtelling, that haunts the nature of intimate relationships, serial marriages, the old school advice from Good Housekeeping magazine in 1955, the reality of power conundrums in intimate relationships and the effects of broken marriages on the body and the psyche. From First Aid Kit
“Radical lying is an unimaginable violence –

a violence now imprinting in psyche everywhere:

I hear the leader speak or see his words and I bleed

through my outerwear. I bleed all the way

back through my wedding day. I wore

blue velvet. Lol.”


“I’m imagining a tail on the wedding dress.

A whip. Something ugly like driftwood.

Something like a deer climbing out

of driftwood. Someone lifting

the driftwood up out of the river

they were crying into. Someone

lifting medicine out of the bride and

lifting the bride out of the ghost.

Someone exorcising the ghost from the truth.”
Enigmatic, as if clothed in mystery, a story is being told in broken thought forms, sometimes in narrative, a one-sided conversation. The story itself lives in symbols and pictures.

In Save Me – for Worldwide Discotheque, it as if the poem is set in a dance hall, people are dancing, the lines of poetry are people dancing and saying “Save Me”. An ingenue poetica of truth and protest,
“We need to think up better endings for our stories.

These tears of mine are justified. To be honest, every Jesus

is terrible. What’s another word for dance? Mother’s milk.

Save me. Endless darkness that is not darkness.”
A brilliant invocation against the violence of the war economy society, the brokenness in ended intimate relationships, the poetry spinning mythologies into dance. A brilliant read. Invisible Wife by Sarah Fox.