Monday, May 16, 2011

Recent above/ground press titles reviewed in Jones Av., by Allan Brown

Here is a write-up received this week in the new issue of Toronto poetry quarterly Jones Av. (Vol. XV, No. IV, Spring 2011), by British Columbia poet/critic (and Jones. Av. contributing editor) Allan Brown. Thank you for the attention, sir!

These recent above/ground chapbooks (c/o 858 Somerset Street West, main floor, Ottawa ON, K1R 6R7) combine a familiar format with four well-varied voices.

Cameron Anstee’s serial poem Frank St. (March 2010, $4.00) is a study of house, history ("in 1878 this address / was at the city limit”), art and self. He moves through his new/old home precisely but gently, instructing himself and us how to relax, “learn to stop,” in order to then “see better, poem.”

Marilyn Irwin’s first chapbook for when you pick daisies (July 2010, $4.00) moves playfully through unexpected sights “carnation imprints” (“the dirt on my window”) and sounds “bullfrog chorus kuhcoffaknee” (“untitled”). The intricate title piece expands the “silver puddles” of the flowers (poems) “into meadow shadows” and allows us to “watch sea strands saturate.”

Marcus McCann plays more academic literary games in Town in a long day of leaving (March 2010, $3.00). the last and first poems expand upon material from Susanna Moodie’s Roughing It in the Bush, from the quiet intimations of “Many voices murmuring in the anxious / beings” (“Town”) to the vital “Dancing, quivering, dazzling” of “We stick to the wind.” Sometimes the teacher cracks a joke, as in his re-arrangement of the pop song “Crazy” in which “I ache, I even spun // thunder.”

Founder rob mclennan has issued several of his own titles, most recently 16 Yonge (August 2010, $4.00). A kind of meandering street-scape, its tones shift from the punning query of “how does your Gardiner grow, / expressly” through the suggestive description of “a dusty lake, a silken sandbar” to the final poignant wondering: “what can one safely say / of sleep, // that stolen river.”

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