Saturday, December 30, 2017

The Peter F. Yacht Club Christmas party/reading/regatta : a report,

Last night was our annual Peter F. Yacht Club Christmas party/reading/regatta, once again in our usual space in Parkdale Market's Carleton Tavern [see last year's report here], held as the "office Christmas party" for our informal writer's grouping.

The evening held a myriad of short readings by PFYC regulars and even an irregular, including Anita Dolman, Christine McNair, D.S. Stymiest, Faizal Deen, Amanda Earl, Chris Johnson, Roland Prevost, Frances Boyle and rob mclennan (with absences by Jason Christie, Chris Turnbull, natalie hanna, James Moran, Cameron Anstee, Vivian Vavassis and Claire Farley, all of whom were sorely missed), with an unexpected appearance by new father N.W. Lea (we had a copy of his most recent above/ground press title handy, so managed to convince him to read), and Nova Scotia poet E. Alex Pierce, who gave a short reading as well. Apparently Pierce was in Ottawa for part of the holidays, and Basma Kavanagh sent her an email and told her to get herself down to the tavern, because of all the poets that would be there!

[above, from top: N.W. Lea reading; N.W. Lea listening as Anita Dolman reads; E. Alex Pierce; D.S. Stymiest] Reading to a healthy crowd of friends new and old, the audience included Jennifer Pederson, Grant Wilkins, Janice Tokar, Monty Reid, Josh Massey, Stephen Brockwell, Charles Earl, jwcurry, Marilyn Irwin and Chris Jennings, among others. And we even helped train a new waitress to our shenanigans.

[above: Roland Prevost; crowd scene including Josh Massey; post-reading w jwcurry, Faizal Deen + D.S. Stymiest] Christine and I made a point of reading from works-in-progress (as well as a poem I wrote the day after our prior PFYC Christmas gathering), her from a series of poetry and prose sections on her experience with preaclampsia, and myself a short story in-progress, one of the three I've been actively working on over the past few months. It was good to hear pretty much the entire group reading from new or recent work, from recently-polished poems to completely unfinished works, including a longer piece by Faizal Deen we're hoping will soon make it into an above/ground press chapbook (a section of the same work appeared in the tenth issue of Amanda Earl's experiment-o).

[Monty Reid and Chris Johnston, listening] And yes, I made cookies (lemon icebox and sugar) and everyone loved them. And Frances made cookies also, which were also loved.

Friday, December 29, 2017

new from above/ground press: small bed & field guide, by Valerie Coulton

small bed & field guide
Valerie Coulton

Which up?

Would not have bought this

but other weather.

What streets choose is no one

else’s. Confidently roaming mostly

cotton against surprising

pink ants. Sleep is preventable.

You have only to try. Feet will love you

unbecomingly, as have proven.


Summer’s lease negotiable

Concrete squares

interlaced with grass

and dirt where grass doesn’t

or mud as now why birds

silent in the rain

but maybe hunting

which is really fasting

we can speak

afterwards anyway

hidden as we are in

these middle-aged leaves

published in Ottawa by above/ground press
December 2017
[as the final above/ground press publication of the press' 24th year]
a/g subscribers receive a complimentary copy

Valerie Coulton
is the author of Open Book, The Cellar Dreamer, and passing world pictures, all from Apogee Press. She lives in Barcelona with the poet Edward Smallfield, co-author of lirio and anonymous, both from Dancing Girl Press.

Grateful acknowledgement is made to New American Writing, Dusie, and As If It Fell from the Sun (EtherDome), in which these projects first appeared. 

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

Thursday, December 28, 2017

I. Rattan reviews Jordan Abel’s TIMELESS AMERICAN CLASSIC (2017) in Broken Pencil #77

I. Rattan was good enough to review for Jordan Abel’s TIMELESS AMERICAN CLASSIC (2017) in Broken Pencil #77. Thanks so much! (Although why complain that a conceptual work isn't emotional enough?) This is the second such review after Toronto writer Cary Fagan was good enough to review the same at his Word Music. As Rattan writes:

There are no easy readings of Jordan Abel's collection of conceptual poetry. Like his previous works The Place of Scraps and Injun, Timeless American Classic takes a canonical, colonial text [and] shreds it to pieces.

This time, Abel lifts and reorients passages from James Fenimore Cooper's 19th-century novel The Last of the Mohicans. The result is concrete poems created through a combination of machine reading, visualization and algorithmic allocation. Each piece stubbornly resists traditional interpretations, admittedly making it a frustrating read. But the value of Abel's work lies in its operation.

Timeless American Classic appropriates a timeless American classic. Abel reclaims Cooper's original appropriation and, more critically, disrupts the colonialist mythologizing of the novel. It's a sly and subversive tactic with mixed results. In a series of six poems, which all share the title "Indian," Abel isolates Cooper's use of the term, taking sentences out of context and placing them one after another. Rendered meaningless, Abel deftly weakens Cooper's stereotypical depictions. In the series "Blood Quantum," which features overlapping circles of text, the points where text collides is unreadable. Again, it's an operation that divests the original text of its power.

But appreciating Abel's theoretical moves is largely an intellectual exercise. In its mathematical operation, the work lacks an emotional entryway, which might have gone a long way in combatting a novel whose dramatic thrust (it spawned Hollywood's Daniel Day-Lewis version, after all) and imperialist romanticizing has been key to its staying power.

Thursday, December 21, 2017


The inaugural recipient of The C.D. Wright Award for Poetry [photo of C.D. Wright, above], established by the Foundation for Contemporary Arts, is Canadian poet and critic (and above/ground press author) Lisa Robertson. Holy congratulations!

As the press release opens:
New York, NY, December 20, 2017 – Foundation for Contemporary Arts (FCA) is pleased to announce a $1 million endowment gift from artists Ellsworth Kelly (1923-2015) and Jack Shear to establish an annual $40,000 C.D. WRIGHT AWARD FOR POETRY. The award will be made each year to a poet over the age of 50 whose work exemplifies Wright’s vibrant lyricism, seriousness, and striking originality. It will be one of the few, significant unrestricted poetry awards in the country. The inaugural C.D. Wright Award will be made to poet LISA ROBERTSON.
For more information, and to see the full press release, see the link here.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

new from above/ground press: ( Kiln ), by Matthew Johnstone

( Kiln )
Matthew Johnstone

A line does not change, stripped out net for grate, 
there is no country shapes fahrenheit
hollow for, shell, in the wound, is, irrational,
witnesses color moved by another color, lives like place
that heat beaded the accent off, this opposites, we
are poor objects, names out front.
Some clipped by certain pay cloud kept their line for
and to begin others, that years before
were a series of disorientations, my father is hint for years,
deafening, putting iron down the land mapper, that
without considering drunks in the hot ocean.

That a seductive light appears
to feature one appears too.

Hours form an intentional place which an expansive keeping
takes, the arrangement each made each killer of veins.
Once fine through but through fragmentary, them
converge onto augment, branded, wet callus, stay I noise.
Movement is necessarily described as folds
are, the profanity unmuted, peels atop everything, is,
is kiln,
that there is a wound does not move.

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

Matthew Johnstone
is author of the collection Let’s be close  Rope to mast  you, Old light (Blue & Yellow Dog, 2010), and the chapbooks o n e (Inpatient Press, 2015), Note on Tundra (DoubleCross Press, 2016), and Eater, of mouths (Vegetarian Alcoholic Press, 2017). He co-edits 'Pider ( and hosts the E t A l. Poetry Readings, both of Nashville, Tennessee.

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

Friday, December 15, 2017

new from above/ground press: HEDGE, by Alyssa Bridgman

Alyssa Bridgman

We Should Be Together

barbed bushes grown into wire
nurtured by time and paranoia
dead hedge petrified into stone
concrete poured over wire frame
cement hedge contortion curdled
steel briar entombed in mortar
twisted frame beneath cement
petrified quick hedge dead
rebar roots clawing dirt
wrapping around ancient bones
crushed under the weight of the wall
bone to dust to concrete mix
mangled steel skeleton sealed
contorted corpse of ancient feuds
clotted blood cements to stone
seeping into the soil sews
mutually assured common destruction
published in Ottawa by above/ground press
December 2017
a/g subscribers receive a complimentary copy

Alyssa Bridgman
is an English student at Simon Fraser University. Her main area of focus is Emily Dickinson’s scrap poems. Alyssa has recently been workshopping her poems in a creative writing class taught by Stephen Collis, with a portfolio that focuses on comparing Trump’s border wall to the eighteenth-century enclosure movement in Britain.

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

Thursday, December 7, 2017

The Peter F. Yacht Club regatta/reading/christmas party!

lovingly hosted by rob mclennan;
The Peter F. Yacht Club annual regatta/christmas party/reading

at The Carleton Tavern (upstairs)
233 Armstrong Avenue (at Parkdale Market)
Friday, December 29, 2017
doors 7pm, reading 7:30pm

with readings from yacht club regulars and irregulars alike, including Roland Prevost, D.S. Stymeist, Faizal Deen, Chris Johnson, Amanda Earl, Christine McNair, Chris Turnbull (weather permitting), Frances Boyle, Anita Dolman and rob mclennan (and most likely some others).

readings! joyousness! possibly even cookies! 


Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Geoffrey Nilson at Lunch Poems at SFU, Dec 20, 2017

above/ground press author Geoffrey Nilson will be reading at Vancouver's Lunch Poems at SFU with Kim Fu.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017; Noon; Teck Gallery, SFU Harbour Centre. See the Facebook invitation here.

One would suspect he would have copies of his new above/ground press title available for sale at the event.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

new from above/ground press: The Appetites of Tiny Hands: Twentieth Anniversary Edition, by Natalee Caple

The Appetites of Tiny Hands: Twentieth Anniversary Edition
Natalee Caple
with a new afterword by the author

Be lenient with me

(tiny white signals
too small to be photographed.)

I make no music
(exposed by the wind.)

I do not claim to suffer

To spur the sorry
(blue one I never meant to love)

the birds I have kept hidden in my attic
are quiet now.

published in Ottawa by above/ground press
November 26, 2017
a/g subscribers receive a complimentary copy

The Appetites of Tiny Hands was originally produced through above/ground press in an edition of 150 copies, November 26 1997, “for a reading at the Imperial Library Pub, Toronto as part of an above/ground press night – Natalee Caple, Stephen Cain, Jim Larwill & rob mclennan.”

Natalee Caple is the author of seven books of poetry and fiction and the co-editor of an anthology of contemporary Canadian writers. The New York Times called her fiction “moving … unsettling.” The Washington Post described her writing as “breathlessly good.” Caple’s latest novel, In Calamity’s Wake, was published by HarperCollins in Canada and by Bloomsbury in the US. She is a professor of English, teaching Canadian literature and Creative Writing at Brock University.

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

Monday, November 20, 2017

new from above/ground press: Nervous System, by N.W. Lea

Nervous System
by N.W. Lea


within the mood,
night wrestles itself
to the known

I’m amazed
at my doubts: stomachal.

Ginger is a nonstarter ...
there’ll be no solace tonight
for the wordy.

The yes-spectrum
is broad, yes,
but totally dependent
upon ignition.

One argues
that everything is second
-hand, a pedestrian
bargain. Rummage

in the pitch

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

N.W. Lea’s second book of poems, Understander (Chaudiere Books, 2015) was a finalist for the 2016 Archibald Lampman Award for Poetry. He currently lives and writes in Eastern Ontario with his partner, their newborn baby girl, and two cats.

This is Lea’s third above/ground press chapbook, after light years (2006) and Present! (2014).

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

Friday, November 17, 2017

Scott Bryson reviews Kyle Flemmer's ASTRAL PROJECTION (2017) in Broken Pencil

Scott Bryson was good enough to provide a second review of Kyle Flemmer's ASTRAL PROJECTION (2017) in Broken Pencil, after Greg Bem's review of the same over at Yellow Rabbits. Thanks so much! You can see the original review here.
Reading this collection tends to produce the sensation that you’re in the thick of that old Atari game, Asteroids. Stanzas — fragments, really — are spread around the page like tumbling space rocks.

While the disjointed text makes for a more entertaining read, it can also be difficult at times. It’s not always easy to tell which direction your eyes should be heading. The clunky formatting choices are obviously meant to mirror the subjects of Kyle Flemmer’s poems: 24 Themis, 87 Sylvia, 10 Hygiea and their brethren — the largest asteroids in the asteroid belt that lies between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter.

In addition to remarking on the asteroids’ location and makeup — “Note the / sublimated surface / ice” — Flemmer explores the origins of their names, in Greek mythology: “Rhea Silvia: / vestal virgin / mother of twins / (by a war god).” It brings the asteroids to life, and assigns motivation to their actions in space: “She has the brightest radar / albedo in the asteroid belt… & if anyone dared / become immortal / it would be she.”

The creativity in this collection lies more in the arrangement of the text than in the text itself — much of this is readily available information. The chapbook’s title doesn’t make an appearance until the very end, but the way Flemmer marries science with mythology is his way of carrying out a sort of astral projection. There’s more going on here than meets the eye.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

new from above/ground press: Pattern refuses to repeat itself = is divine, by Elizabeth Robinson

Pattern refuses to repeat itself
= is divine
[Rothko Chapel]
a suite by Elizabeth Robinson

Black at center

is blue

like memory

Color’s semblance a form of the holy


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

Elizabeth Robinson is the author of multiple books of poetry, most recently Counterpart (Ahsahta, 2012) and Blue Heron (Center for Literary Publishing, 2013). Robinson was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Award for On Ghosts (Solid Objects) and has been the winner of the National Poetry Series and the Fence Modern Poets Prize.  She was awarded the 2008 Foundation for Contemporary Arts Grants to Artists Award and has had residencies at the MacDowell Colony, the Djerassi Resident Artists Program, the Marin Headlands Center for the Arts and the Maison Dora Maar.

This is Robinson’s second above/ground press chapbook, after Simplified Holy Passage (2015).

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