Wednesday, February 13, 2019

new from above/ground press: Empire of Dirt, by Virginia Konchan

Empire of Dirt
Virginia Konchan


You are the last vowel
left in the known world,
and I am the placard
saying this table
has been reserved.
A pity, the rain shower never came.
A pity, it lasted so long.
I had hoped to be wafer-thin:
a mere idea, drifting down the hall.
As it stands, I am stolid,
irrefutable but without value,
like an animal.  Aren’t we all.
The pastoral’s end is nigh.
Free love is the con of cons.
This is the hour
of the anonymous poet.
Sail on, high ship, sail on.

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

cover image: Tema Stauffer, “Bonneville Speedway, Utah, 2014.”

Author of two poetry collections, Any God Will Do (Carnegie Mellon, 2020) and The End of Spectacle (Carnegie Mellon, 2018), a collection of short stories, Anatomical Gift (Noctuary Press, 2017), and two chapbooks, including The New Alphabets (Anstruther Press, 2019), Virginia Konchan’s poetry has appeared in The New Yorker, The New Republic, Boston Review, and elsewhere. 

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, February 12, 2019

❡ Call for submissions to the 2019 bpNichol Chapbook Award ❡

from the Meet the Presses website:
The bpNichol Chapbook Award recognizes excellence in Canadian poetry in English published in chapbook form within Canada. The prize is awarded to a poetry chapbook judged to be the best submitted. The author receives $4,000 and the publisher receives $500. Awarded continuously since 1986, the bpNichol Chapbook Award is currently administered by the Meet the Presses collective.

Chapbooks should be not less than 10 pages and not more than 48 pages. The chapbooks must have been published between January 1st and December 31st of the previous year (2018), and the poet must be Canadian.

Interested authors or publishers should submit three copies of eligible chapbooks. Translations into English from other languages are eligible.

Submissions must be sent by Canada Post or courier (and not hand-delivered to a Meet The Presses collective member) and include a completed submission form or accurate facsimile (download the bpNichol Award Submission Form 2019), a brief C.V. of the author, including address, telephone number, and email address. Publisher contact information (contact person, mailing address, email address, and telephone contact) must also be included. Incomplete submissions will not be considered.

The opening date for receipt of submissions is Feb. 1, 2019, and they will be accepted until May 31, 2019. If submission confirmation has not been received by email by June 30, 2019, please send a query to Beth Follett at: feralgrl[at]interlog[dot]com.

Send submissions to:
Meet the Presses / bpNichol Chapbook Award
113 Bond Street, St John’s NL A1C 1T6


Chapbooks written by members of the Meet the Presses collective are ineligible for the award. Authors of chapbooks published by members of the collective remain eligible for the award.

Monday, February 11, 2019

new from above/ground press: Codex Mathematicum, by Joshua James Collis

Codex Mathematicum
Joshua James Collis

 4$$$$$$$$$4$$$$$$$$4$$$$$$$$$4$$                  4                                  $

Do we listen 2 music?
Or do we listen 2 Music?
Music as a lifestyle, Music as a culture
Music as a sense of identity, as it pertains to

How we present ourselves in a society
I am a punk – I listen to Music
I am a hip-hop – I listen to Music
I listen to Music

You aren’t really listening
to music. To an arrangement – of notes and chords
of beats or bass or
something created in a studio. Or something slapped

together in a garage, ,
or constructed carefully
on an acoustic at a party, then fundamentally failing to
get laid.

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

Joshua James Collis
is from the West Cost of Canada. He sold cell phones for a while, then settled on earning a Bachelor of Fine Arts from UVic.

He’s also played the bass in dive bars, been in one of Victoria’s largest art collectives, edited a theatre review and written and directed some University films that no one has ever seen. You can find him at

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, February 7, 2019

Joel W. Vaughan reviews Rachel Mindell's rib and instep: honey (2018) at Broken Pencil

Joel W. Vaughan was good enough to provide the first review of Rachel Mindell's rib and instep: honey (2018) over at Broken Pencil. Thanks so much! You can see Vaughan's original review here.
rib and instep: honey
Chapbook, Rachel Mindell, 28 pgs, above/ground press,, $5

Rachel Mindell’s 18 poems, presented here in the 7” x 8.5” chapbook format characteristic of above/ground press, are almost always beautiful to the ear and slippery on the tongue, but sometimes unsatisfying in their lack of substance otherwise. “Sometimes” is the key word, here; Mindell hits genuine high notes in poems like “Life as we know it,” where the narrator physically bounces back and forth across the page, detailing memories of her father’s gradual decline on the left and discussing the celestial role of water on the right. She encourages deep reading and fosters complex connections throughout and performs a bit of that work herself in a provocative final line: “You will be pretty, as though in being pretty I could cease / to be moon, cease to be water, thief.”

However, I run into issues with Mindell’s style when it veers away from prose poetry. Take, for example, this chapbook’s penultimate poem: “Sedlec Ossuary” a seemingly consequential title, as it’s used more than once. We’re led to believe this poem is somehow significant to the chapbook, as it derives its title from a nondescript line midway through the narration: “signed the family name with  i in a jar warding evil / off the dinner table: cuboid, talus, in worship no longer questioning the lucky score for building.” I don’t think it’s unfair to read these lines as valuing style over substance, especially when crystallized in a title that amputates subject from predicate to the detriment of meaning. Perhaps that’s the point. rib and instep: honey is always aesthetically pleasing, but satisfying only sometimes.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Terrence Abrahams reviews Alyssa Bridgman's HEDGE (2017) at Broken Pencil

Terrence Abrahams was good enough to review Alyssa Bridgman's HEDGE (2017) over at Broken Pencil. Thanks much! This is actually the third review of Bridgman's debut chapbook, after Greg Bem's review over at Goodreads and Ryan Pratt's review at the ottawa poetry newsletter. You can see Abrahams's review here.
Chapbook, Alyssa Bridgman, above/ground press, $5

Beginning a chapbook with Pink Floyd lyrics and a bright lime-green doesn’t tell me much about what to expect from this chapbook. Like the cover colour, Bridgman’s poems are arresting.

Charting the etymological history of the word “hedge” and ending with a political plea (“I want a world where the word border is not a brick”), this work combines the pleasant tenderness of a garden with the tension of world that surrounds it.

These poems are acutely aware they are not alone. They are always looking out or keeping in, preventing or allowing something to pass, creating the “organic barbed wire” referenced in the poem “Quick hedge.” Bridgman draws attention to how something so natural (a thickleafed, bright green, brushy plant) can be made into something so unnatural, as she explores in a set of haiku aptly called “Unnatural Haikus”:

unnatural fence
created out of what was
once a common right

Whether she is referencing land, land ownership, plants, gardens, the very right to take up space, I don’t know; regardless, I am moved.

Bridgman turns, lastly, to the written word itself: “but I don’t want to write bricks,” begins the third section of the long poem “Between cracked words.” Perhaps feeling trapped by conventional poetic structure, Bridgman reflects on how she wishes to breathe when writing, to not feel walled in or bogged down or “in the dark room” of an ideological echo chamber. Letting the hedge grow every which way, left to its own devices, untrimmed and understood as the wild thing it is, is preferable, it seems, to the anxiety a closed-off world brings to Bridgman’s poetic effort.