Sunday, July 9, 2023


Can you believe it? Today is the thirtieth anniversary of that first above/ground press event held at the Stone Angel Institute coffeehouse on Ottawa’s Lisgar Street (both the coffeehouse and the building itself are long gone) back on July 9, 1993. Were we ever that young? Here’s a link to the flyer I made for that event, which launched a number of the first half-dozen items under the above/ground press imprint, such as the FREE VERSE ANTHOLOGY, a side-stapled anthology of forty Canadian poets edited by myself, my chapbook AUGUST, and Ottawa poet David Collins’ chapbook debut, A Month in the Life of a Fool. And now, the press is nearly thirteen hundred publications deep, from broadsides, pamphlets, multiple journals—including former poetry journals STANZAS, Missing Jacket: writing and visual art and drop, and current journals Touch the Donkey [a small poetry journal], GU E S T [a journal of guest editors] and The Peter F Yacht Club, as well as, separately, the online monthly periodicities: a journal of poetry and poetics—and single author poetry chapbooks numbering into the hundreds. Don’t forget the prose chapbook series prose/naut begun during the pandemic as well, yes? Or the "Report from the Society" festschrifts begun not long after?

The anthology groundwork: The best of the third decade of above/ground press: 2013–2023 (Invisible Publishing), edited by my dear self, is now available for pre-order, and will be launching in Ottawa this fall through the Ottawa International Writers Festival (date TBA). The second anthology, published through Chaudiere Books in 2013, Ground Rules: The Best of above/ground press, 2003-2013, is also still available through Invisible Publishing. The first anthology, GROUNDSWELL: best of above/ground press, 1993-2003 (Broken Jaw Press), is technically out-of-print, but I have copies available, if anyone is so inclined. I love the idea of doing an anthology (clearly) every decade to get an updated portrait of some of the activity of the press; and this is small press, after all. If we don’t celebrate and acknowledge ourselves from time to time, who will? So much of this work goes unacknowledged otherwise (you should check out the ongoing bibliography/interview series I’ve been working with a variety of former/current Canadian presses and journals at this link; or did you see this project I curated a few years back to celebrate forty years of Stuart Ross’ Proper Tales Press?).

And the THIRTIETH ANNIVERSARY READING/CHAPBOOK LAUNCH/PARTY has been confirmed for SATURDAY, AUGUST 12, DOWNSTAIRS at the CLOCKTOWER BREW PUB at 575 Bank Street, Ottawa! While readers are still being confirmed, be aware that Grant Wilkins (Ottawa), Karen Massey (Ottawa), Jennifer Baker (Ottawa), Jerome Melancon (Regina) and Sophia Magliocca (Montreal) have already signed up to read, all of whom will be launching their new above/ground press chapbook titles! Beyond that, forthcoming above/ground press titles also include chapbooks by George Bowering and Artie Gold, Colin Dardis, Russell Carisse, Micah Ballard, Cary Fagan, Amanda Deutch, Kevin Stebner, Kyla Houbolt, Gary Barwin, Adriana Oniță, rob mclennan and Julie Carr, Noah Berlatsky, Heather Cadsby, Blunt Research Group, Phil Hall and Steven Ross Smith, Zane Koss, Peter Myers, Gil McElroy, Ben Robinson, Miranda Mellis, MLA Chernoff, Terri Witek, Geoffrey Olsen, Pete Smith and Robert van Vliet! That’s pretty cool, right? Oh, and next week sees the release of issue thirty-eight of the quarterly Touch the Donkey [a small poetry journal].

If you are open to such, I can still completely back-date a 2023 above/ground press annual subscription (I’ve done such before). Or, until the end of July 2023 I can offer a year-and-a-half (anniversary) deal: $115 (CAN; American subscribers, $115 US; $150 international) for everything above/ground press makes from THIS VERY MOMENT through to the end of 2024 (paypal/e-transfer to rob_mclennan (at) hotmail (dot) com; if you’d rather send a cheque, that’s fine; just send an email and I’ll send along mailing address). That’s something, right? I’m also open to donations, so, like, don’t be shy about that.

You are probably already well aware that the above/ground press 30th anniversary fundraiser is still going strong, with two weeks remaining, and a huge array of perks still available, including some of those anthologies, an array of back issues of Touch the Donkey and bundle upon bundle of stylistic and geographic bundles! I’ll probably even add some further perks before time runs out. I mean, most of the last ten to fifteen years of publications are still in print, if you can imagine. Although, will I ever not be behind on my mailing?

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