Friday, January 10, 2020

new from above/ground press: The Mystery of Ornament, by Dale Tracy

The Mystery of Ornament
Dale Tracy

Signature Piece

The cousins name the centre of their plan
Captain Quilt’s Wet Stitch:
Martha swims, they sail,
an awl through the weave,
a trawl through the water.
The fish are the cover story
and the symbol of the dive:
Fish, another bird observer,
because we all watch our shadow.
The cousins know Martha saw
curved wings to fall so straight.

published in Ottawa by above/ground press
January 2020
a/g subscribers receive a complimentary copy

Dale Tracy
is the author of the chapbook Celebration Machine (Proper Tales Press, 2018), the four-poem chapoem What It Satisfies (Puddles of Sky Press, 2016), and the monograph With the Witnesses: Poetry, Compassion, and Claimed Experience (McGill-Queen’s, 2017). She teaches in the Department of English, Culture, and Communication and is currently the associate chair of the Writing Centre at the Royal Military College of Canada.

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, January 2, 2020

Jessica Drake-Thomas reviews Allyson Paty’s Five O’Clock on the Shore (2019)

Jessica Drake-Thomas was good enough to provide the first review of Allyson Paty’s Five O’Clock on the Shore (2019); thanks so much! You can see the original review here.
This week, I read Allyson Paty’s chapbook, Five O’Clock on the Shore, a collection of poems which explore temporal and causality. I found this book to be really intriguing. It has the feel of a confessional.

In her long poem, entitled “Millennial,” the speaker says, “Anything I did or had could be given a name and a value.” She then goes on to show how actions and exchanges shaped her life. How exchanges were made, so that she had the things that she did or does.

There are several such exchanges, for example:

“People with tumors lay down on a table for my father. My father cut the tumors out./ The people with tumors paid a hospital, the hospital paid my dad, and he paid for me.”

The series of statements show cause and effect throughout her life. How she came to be who she is and where she is. One would think that these would take the poetry and — out of the speaker’s life, however, these pieces become deeply meaningful and artfully spoken.

“Everything I did or had could be given a name and a value. It was a violent translation./Nothing it could not touch.”

“Millennial” evokes a certain sense of longing. For a simpler life with less of the “violent translation.” It’s a longing for life to mean something more than just these exchanges. There’s something deeply human and aching about the piece. Simply put, it’s stunning.

I highly recommend Five O’Clock on the Shore. Paty’s work is phenomenal. You can find Five O’Clock on the Shore through above/ground press.