Monday, August 31, 2015

The Factory Reading Series: Pratt, Prevost, Anstee + Reid, September 25, 2015

span-o (the small press action network - ottawa) presents:

The Factory Reading Series presents:

Ryan Pratt (Hamilton)
Roland Prevost (Ottawa)
Cameron Anstee (Ottawa)
+ Monty Reid (Ottawa)
lovingly hosted by rob mclennan
Friday, September 25, 2015;
doors 7pm; reading 7:30pm
The Carleton Tavern,
223 Armstrong Street (at Parkdale; upstairs)

Ryan Pratt lives in Hamilton, Canada. A contributing writer for The Puritan and Ottawa Poetry Newsletter, Ryan's poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Quiddity, Contemporary Verse 2, text Magazine and (parenthetical) zine. He was nominated for a 2014 Pushcart Prize.

Roland Prevost's first trade poetry publication Singular Plurals (Chaudiere Books, 2014) came out in the fall of 2014. He has been published by Arc Poetry Magazine, Descant, The Toronto Quarterly, ottawater, experiment-o, Ottawa Arts Review, The Steel Chisel, The Peter F. Yacht Club and as a dusie “Tuesday poem,” among many others. He is the author of four chapbooks: Metafizz (Bywords, 2007), Dragon Verses (Dusty Owl, 2009), Our/ Are Carried Invisibles (above/ground press, 2009), and Parapagus (above/ground press, 2012), and has also been published in three poetry collections by Angel House Press. He won the 2006 John Newlove Poetry Award, judged that year by Erín Moure. He was managing editor of, and founding managing editor of seventeen seconds: a journal of poetry and poetics. He lives and writes in Ottawa.

Cameron Anstee lives and writes in Ottawa ON where he runs Apt. 9 Press and is a doctoral candidate in the Department of English at the University of Ottawa. He has published chapbooks with Baseline Press (London ON), above/ground press (Ottawa ON), The Emergency Response Unit (Marmora ON), and In/Words (Ottawa ON). He is the editor of The Collected Poems of William Hawkins (Chaudiere Books, 2015).

Monty Reid was born in Saskatchewan, worked for many years in Alberta, BC and Quebec, and now lives in Ottawa. His books include Garden (Chaudiere), The Luskville Reductions (Brick), and CrawlSpace (Anansi) as well as chapbooks such as Kissing Bug (Phafours), Moan Coach (above/ground) and Site Conditions (Apt 9). Two collections are forthcoming: Meditatio Placentae from Brick, and A Gran Zoo with BuschekBooks. He has won Alberta’s Stephansson Award for Poetry on three occasions, the Lampman Award, national magazine awards, and is a 3-time nominee for the Governor-General’s Award.  He is currently the Managing Editor for Arc Poetry Magazine and Festival Director at VerseFest, Ottawa’s international poetry festival.

Friday, August 28, 2015

above/ground press bundles! 5 chapbooks for $18

Until October 1st, 2015, above/ground press is offering five titles of your choice (while supplies last) for eighteen dollars (plus postage). What a deal!

You can scroll through the backlist here (check for availability of older titles). Available titles include:

Now You Have Many Legs To Stand On, Ashley-Elizabeth Best
Six Swedish Poets, Hugh Thomas
A BOOK OF SAINTS, an excerpt from Saint Ursula’s Commonplace Book, Amanda Earl
ins & outs, Nicole Markotić
Simplified Holy Passage, Elizabeth Robinson
BRCA: Birth of a Patient, Katie L. Price
The Destructions, Amish Trivedi [pictured]
yasser arafat is dead, damian lopes
Happens Is The Sun, Jamie Bradley
Forty Five, produced for rob mclennan's forty-fifth birthday, with new poems by: derek beaulieu, Jason Christie, Amanda Earl, Helen Hajnoczky, Chris Johnson, Gil McElroy, rob mclennan, Christine McNair, Pearl Pirie and Stan Rogal.
CASE STUDY: WITH, Jennifer Kronovet
Texture: Louisiana, rob mclennan
The Doxologies, Gil McElroy
transcend transcribe transfigure transform transgress, an essay by derek beaulieu
Strange Fits of Beauty & Light, Karen Massey
Cursed Objects, Jason Christie
today’s woods, Pearl Pirie
Who Let the Mice in Brion Gysin, Gregory Betts
Abject Lessons, Jennifer Baker
Images from Declassified Nuclear Test Films, Stephen Brockwell
THE MOTIONS, Kate Schapira
How the alphabet was made, [an instructional], rob mclennan
Wintering Prairie, Megan Kaminski
Concatenations, Andy Weaver
Source, Susanne Dyckman
Braking and Blather, Emily Ursuliak
Fifteen Problems, Noah Eli Gordon, Images by Sommer Browning
vertigoheel for the dilly, Pearl Pirie
Estelle Meaning Star, Sarah Rosenthal
and many, many others...

published in Ottawa by above/ground press

To order, send cheques (add $2 for postage; outside Canada, add $4) to: rob mclennan, 2423 Alta Vista Drive, Ottawa ON K1H 7M9 or paypal at

Coming soon: 2016 subscriptions! Including chapbooks, broadsides and Touch the Donkey.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

above/ground press participates in the (second) fisher fine and small press fair at the univeristy of toronto, sept 12, 2015

Given the success of their prior small press book fair, The Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library is holding a second small press fair in their space!

Come by and see what above/ground press (and numerous other publishers) have been up to lately.


Saturday September 12, 2015

Time: 10 am-5 pm

Location: Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, University of Toronto, 120 St. George St. (corner of St. George and Harbord)

Thursday, August 20, 2015

"poem" broadside #335 : "JD 2457179" by Gil McElroy

What you are you’ve
done, that you’ve
with you
moved. When
profound fingers can close your eyes at leisure,
& the ugly of your mind pittance
people, then, & only then, are you
swollen with a half-life.

Damn, when
did I dream you? Monday,
maybe? Monday because it was
me just looking altogether & then some (&
I remember my amazement), not knowing
the year, nor its
heavily coded nature. So
I’ll now fluctuate,
harmlessly, trivialized, close to

The dreams of time
are possible, maybe, maybe
just old paint I could’ve
aimed at.

Trying too hard. Far
far too hard.

JD 2457179
by Gil McElroy
above/ground press broadside #335
Gil McElroy has published four books of poetry with Talonbooks, most recently, Ordinary Time (2011). He has also published numerous chapbooks and broadsides with various publishers, and in 2013 he was co-winner of the bpNichol Chapbook Award for Ordinary Time: The Merton Lake Propers, published by baseline press. He is also a visual artist, independent curator, and freelance art critic, and lives in the village of Colborne, Ontario. His most recent chapbook is The Doxologies (above/ground press, 2014).

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

new from above/ground press: Now You Have Many Legs To Stand On, by Ashley-Elizabeth Best

Now You Have Many Legs To Stand On
Ashley-Elizabeth Best

He's Not Out There Looking For Me

Stand up and name your text, I remind him.
He thinks I hide a surplus of love.

I offer him approaches on how to behave,
but he is young and led away by little
sorceries, practices conjuration with spray
cans and bird bones.

The moon is rehearsing its postures,
a cratered canvas to skeleton the night sky.

I'm so tired of my whole life revolving
around my body.

He won't rise again.

He cost me much, but I wish he lived
to cost me more.

Bruised present. You cannot wait
for things to name themselves.
published in Ottawa by above/ground press
August 2015
a/g subscribers receive a complimentary copy

Ashley-Elizabeth Best is from Cobourg, ON. Her work has been published in Fjords, CV2, Berfrois, Grist and Ambit Magazine, among other publications. Recently she was shortlisted for the Robert Kroetsch Award for Innovative Poetry. Her first collection of poems, Slow States of Collapse is forthcoming with ECW Press. She lives and writes in Kingston.

This is her first chapbook and second publication with above/ground press, after the "poem" broadside "from Algonquin" (#315, 2012).

[produced as part of the above/ground press twenty-second anniversary reading and launch, also featuring Hugh Thomas and Amanda Earl, August 27, 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

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Michael Lake reviews Stephen Brockwell’s Images from Declassified Nuclear Test Films (2014) in Broken Pencil #68

Aside from the title and a dabbling of references to gamma rays, alpha particles and civil engineers, it is unclear what thematic connection, if any, this suite of poems has with nuclear test films. Many of the films are available to stream online, but they do not provide any clues as to what is at the heart of this collection.
            The first seven of nine poems reference specific films in their titles: “080071, 1964, Tonopah Test Range” or “0800035, 1968 & 1973, Project Plowshare.” The films themselves are a mix of propagandist fear-mongering voiceover footage of test blasts that feature some rather abstract and hypnotizing shots of explosions and floating lights. The corresponding poems pull a variety of images from the footage—images of dust, deserts, water, fire—but are strung together without any larger cohesion in either theme or form. A few standout lines—“The thought was / everything / could be delivered by cannon—” or “Anchor of the trunk / more membrane of flame / than memory of / wood, water”—land with dull thuds in the middle of poems that are otherwise so vague as to be about anything and nothing all at once.
            For the collection’s final two poems, Brockwell changes modes and strays even further from the already tenuous thematic thread. “Wednesday Morning, 3 AM” reads like an early draft of a finger-pointing manifesto. It repeats the phrase “Nothing is more silencing than…” with such offerings as “the law” or “wireless everything” or “the grave.” It reads as if it came from a different collection altogether. Ultimately, these poems do not add up to more than the sum of their disparate parts.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Michael Lake reviews Jason Christie’s Cursed Objects (2014) in Broken Pencil #68

Michael Lake was good enough to review Jason Christie’s Cursed Objects (2014) in Broken Pencil #68. Thanks so much! As he writes:

Jason Christie has a strange way of looking at the world. He sees objects as cursed, not in a supernatural way, but rather, as he explains in the author’s note, because the objects “have achieved an uncomfortable new role, namely that of reflecting our twisted sense of domination.” The poem “Bell, book and candle” might be the most straightforward example of this notion, where each object’s function is willed by the object itself, casting a dark shadow over the idea they are simply instruments of our own design.
            “Henge,” one of the best poems of the lot, employs a much wider stare to explore a similar idea. The creating of henges, in essence, is an ancient practice by which humans have externalized their primacy (over land, over people, over gods) using earth and stone. Christie looks to modern practices for equivalents and what he comes up with is rather bleak: “a voice alone / rises to say anything / begun today will fail.”
            In all of these poems, Christie seems to be telling us that the trust put into the objects we surround ourselves with is misguided; we’ve created a world of falsities where even “a stone road / lengthens my / journey.”
            Christie’s playful and inventive language is both a challenge and a delight to read. He is equally concerned with the limits of language in describing a challenging world, and the poems often devolve into fragments and deconstructions, with words breaking apart on the page to form new, invented terms. This is all done with an assured voice and an expert hand.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

new from above/ground press: Six Swedish Poets, by Hugh Thomas

Six Swedish Poets
Hugh Thomas


Do not ingest the pink gangster. 
Put sand on the little table
and burn an apple beside your bed.
You have been unlucky with your garden,
for you there is parking. 
published in Ottawa by above/ground press
August 2015
a/g subscribers receive a complimentary copy

Hugh Thomas
is a poet and translator who has just moved to Montreal, where he will be teaching mathematics at UQAM. His most recent chapbook, Albanian Suite, was published by above/ground press in 2014. His previous chapbook, Opening the Dictionary, also published by above/ground press, was shortlisted for the 2012 bpNichol chapbook award.

This is his third chapbook with above/ground press, after Albanian Suite (2014) and Opening the Dictionary (2011).

[produced as part of the above/ground press twenty-second anniversary reading and launch, also featuring Ashley-Elizabeth Best and Amanda Earl, August 27, 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

Monday, August 10, 2015

new from above/ground press: A BOOK OF SAINTS, by Amanda Earl

an excerpt from Saint Ursula’s Commonplace Book
Amanda Earl

Saint Monica, Patron Saint of Wives and Abuse Victims, August 27

The day I disappeared
I was thinking of her

death and my own,
her tears on my face.

I searched for a scarf
to cover my neck.

I packed nothing
but fruit and wine,

offerings to God, and
I wandered in my body

as my mind. Awkward old
bones, joints stiff with pain

It is my intention to
kneel on the steps

of an oratory and climb.

published in Ottawa by above/ground press
August 2015
a/g subscribers receive a complimentary copy

Cover art: The Dream of St. Ursula, Vittore Carpaccio, 1495

Amanda Earl is a troublemaker who haunts the streets & watering holes of Ottawa for inspiration. She is still in love with Kiki (Chaudiere Books, 2014), her poetry book celebrating the spirit of Montparnasse & hopes that you will be too. Find her on Twitter @KikiFolle or read about her in secret at

This is Earl’s fourth chapbook with above/ground press, after Sex First & Then A Sandwich (2012), The Sad Phoenician’s Other Woman (2008) and Eleanor (2007).

Read a further excerpt online at Jacket2

[produced as part of the above/ground press twenty-second anniversary reading and launch, also featuring Ashley-Elizabeth Best and Hugh Thomas, August 27, 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

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Lyndsay Kirkham reviews Katie L. Price’s BRCA: Birth of a Patient (2015) in Broken Pencil #68

Lyndsay Kirkham was good enough to review Katie L. Price’s BRCA: Birth of a Patient (2015) in Broken Pencil #68. Thanks so much! This is actually the second review of Price’s chapbook, after Edric Mesmer reviewed such over in Yellow Field. And of course, copies of Price’s chapbook is still very much available. As she writes:

BRCA: Birth of a Patient is an experimental flexing of poetry’s potential, ultimately, asking the question: can anything stand as poetry? Opening with an x-rayed image of a tumored breast, this chapbook follows the medicalized progress of a young woman who has discovered a lump in her right breast.
            A variety of medical documents, charts and imaging stand in as the poetics of this narrative. Points of view switch from different oncology specialists; the reader is asked to conjure a redacted patient from a history – a history that is not of the patient, but of her diseased body. With an obvious nod to found poetry and the longer forms, Price’s work functions as an academic exercise that asks questions, prods at long-established institutions, and challenges the reader’s own notions about body, gender essentialism and the relationship between illness and the self.
            Price is clearly critical of how medical culture writes the body, particularly the diseased body. It is what the author has expunged from the medical files that stands out as the poetic muscle of BRCA. One line reads: “The above findings were discussed with        of _____________ and 2:05 p.m.” Readers can easily insert themselves into this fictionalized file and locate the anonymity experienced by the ordered process of documented disease.
            Unfortunately, the medical-chart format of Birth of a Patient leaves the reader hunting for trinkets of poetics in an eye-straining wall of medicalized discourse. With dense passages that offer little more than a 2-dimentsional report on a patient’s breast cancer, many of the pieces fail to illuminate the meaning that Price is so obviously shooting for.
            A deeper consideration of organization and the use of white space would lend itself to the author’s goal of critiquing how our culture writes the body. BRCA should be appreciated for the queries it makes about text, authorship and our relationship to bodies and verse.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Lyndsay Kirkham reviews Jennifer Baker’s Abject Lessons (2014) in Broken Pencil #68

Lyndsay Kirkham was good enough to review Jennifer Baker’s Abject Lessons (2014) in Broken Pencil #68. Thanks so much! This is actually the second full review of Baker’s chapbook (apart from Cameron Anstee’s mention), after Ryan Pratt reviewed such over at the ottawa poetry newsletter. And of course, copies of Baker’s chapbook is still very much available. As she writes:

This new chapbook by Ottawa-based poet Jennifer Baker is a standout collection that provokes not only in its entirety, but also in its individual missives, returning to the reader long after the initial ingestion. Baker’s free verse is stitched together by her overarching theme of “place”; Abject Lessons also nudges at more nuanced concepts such as, Canadian geography, the home, and gendered canonical placement, while constantly echoing a deeply personal longing to understand one’s own place.
            There is a playful undercurrent of literary theory throughout Baker’s collection that manages to avoid heavy handed pretentions, functioning less as an ostentatious device and more as an authentic octave in the poet’s voice, leaving her words accessible to all readers.
            Many of the pieces in Abject Lessons blend the personal and political, offering an inner scenery that doubles as a critical lens for larger ideas such as colonialism and “Twitter Feminism.” It is after a full reading of “Pilgrim” that a reader feels the full impact of the author’s ability to dance with competing partners: Canadian history and her family’s personal journey.
            Punctuation (with only an occasional em-dash, colon or ampersand) floats through the entire collection like a ghost. One feels that extensive editing has extracted all mechanical signposts from the poems, the absence working as a tool for reader-framed meaning making.
            A minimal number of the selections, particularly “Abject Lessons VIII” and “Abject Lessons X” impress themselves on the reader as mere filler, lacking any obvious relationship with the remainder of the collection’s broader scope. In contrast, with further development both “Pilgrim” and “Dwelling” have potential to be their own collections.
            With a guttural and rhythmic measure, Abject Lessons leaves the reader with dirty finger nails, and an unexpected loathing of Irving Layton; a gem in above/ground’s solid backlist, worth the $4.