Thursday, March 24, 2016

2016 Battle of the Bards: Best, Maguire, Pinder and Weaver

above/ground press authors Ashley-Elizabeth Best, Shannon Maguire, Sarah Pinder and Andy Weaver participate in the 2016 Battle of the Bards alongside Lara Bozabalian, Chris Chambers, Warren Clements, Michael Fraser, Marty Gervais, Susan Glickman, Maureen Hynes, James Lindsay, Kate Marshall Flaherty, Ruth Roach Pierson, Vanessa Shields, Mary Lou Soutar-Hynes, Blair Trewartha, Daniel Scott Tysdal, Katerina Vaughan Fretwell and Bänoo Zan!

Poetry NOW: 8th annual Battle of the Bards

Wednesday, March 30, 2016 - 7:30 PM

Special Event: IFOA Weekly
Brigantine Room
235 Queens Quay West
Toronto M5J 2G8
Cost: $10/FREE supporters, students & youth 25 and under

1 stage. 20 poets. 1 winner.

Our popular poetry competition returns in 2016 to feature readings by 20 of Canada’s upcoming and established poets. Judges Geoffrey E. Taylor (IFOA’s Director), Jen Tindall (IFOA’s Artistic Associate) and Andy McGuire (winner of 2015 IFOA Poetry Games) will select one winner, who will receive an automatic invitation to read at the 37th edition of the International Festival of Authors AND an ad for their book in NOW Magazine!

The event will be hosted by NOW’s Susan G. Cole.

Poetry NOW is presented in partnership with NOW Magazine.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

above/ground press at VERSeFest, 2016

Another VERSeFest has come and gone, with a spectacular array of readings and talks throughout the week, most of which I wasn't able to catch on film, and about half or so I wasn't even able to make it out for, given exhaustion, toddler and other distractions. But there was a ton of incredible writing, performances and writers, from performers to audience to organizers and staff, including Shannon Maguire, Phil Hall, Sandra Ridley, Caroline Bergvall, David McGimpsey, Marilyn Irwin, Frances Boyle, Pearl Pirie, Monty Reid and tons of others.

The Factory Reading Series' event, featuring lectures by Ottawa poet Ben Ladouceur and the brilliant and charming Kansas poet Anne Boyer were spectacular, and both talks were easily two of the strongest of the series so far. If you weren't there, you should really be kicking yourself. With luck, both pieces will be included in the next issue of seventeen seconds: a journal of poetry and poetics, which is due to appear this summer.

Ladouceur's talk was incredibly sharp, working through a conversation of the problems with being referred to as "brave" in his writing, and Boyer's talk was an informal and lively collage that focused on how she came to write, both generally, and specifically, including references to libraries, Smurfs and other threads. Stunning.

Of course, for the sake of my Hall of Honour induction and subsequent event (Cameron Anstee was kind enough to post this generous write-up about my activities), I produced a wee chapbook-as-handout, King Kong (Apostrophe Press), in a limited edition. I might reissue it as an above/ground press item over the next month or three, but if anyone is interested, drop $5 into my paypal and I'll slip you a copy. And of course, there was the VERSeFest special issue of The Peter F. Yacht Club produced for the festival, featuring the work of numerous performers throughout the week (as well as a number of PFYC regulars). I even produced the new issue of Touch the Donkey a few weeks early, given a couple of the contributors were part of the fest (but, apart from subscribers, you will just have to wait until mid-April).

As part of the same event, Toronto poet, editor, fiction writer and current Parliamentary Poet Laureate George Elliott Clarke was good enough to read his poem from the anthology TEN (above/ground press, 2003), a poem and collection produced as part of the tenth anniversary of above/ground press. Of course, when he suggested I pull such out so he could read the poem, it only took me three days to find a copy in my bulging above/ground press archive (a copy I made him return, given I don't know if I have any others available). But oh, the things I found when I was looking...

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Rebecca Anne Banks reviews Robert Hogg's from Lamentations (2016)

Rebecca Anne Banks was good enough to review Robert Hogg's from Lamentations (2016) over at Subterranean Blue Poetry. Thanks, Rebecca! See the original review here.
from Lamentations, a cinematique look at childhood and death in a Western Canadian town, a “memoir” in poetry that remembers balloons and soft edges, the romance of cowboys, inside difficult times. Robert Hogg was born in Edmonton, Alberta. He has been on the Canadian literary scene since the 1960’s, studying at the University of British Columbia he was involved with the Black Mountain poets and the Tish poetry movement. He has earned a Phd in literature and taught N.A. poetry and poetics at Carleton University in Ottawa until 2005. Poet Hogg has written 6 books.

from Lamentations, begins with a poetic prose introduction that freefalls into childhood memories of trolley rides and watching Roy Rogers at the cinema, playing “cowboys and Indians” shooting at each other with toy guns, playing dead. And how the Poet laments, as if it was all just fun and games, romance, as if no one ever really died, the fight of good vs. evil, the shooting of horses wasn’t real. A series of poems follow, pared in free verse, experiential, a brush with Imagism, Sitting on Ginger, Ahead (in memoriam, Bob Creeley), The Creative, A Fallen Wall to climax into a mix of poetic prose and free verse in Summer of Sixty three – for Jamie and Carol – on Jamie’s 70th and to end with Synapse Mid-Morning January, as if in epilogue. The short staccato lines in broken thought train are barren and lightening, the nature imagery and Zen of New Age poetry.

A Fallen Wall

Is this a little like the end of the world?

Is this a small blip on the screen called life?

Listen to the small pounding of the rain.

It make of your forehead

a fallen wall

beyond which there is no longer

a boundary to cross

only a damp ground

oozes like a wet wound

aching to be closed.

The Poet quotes “Porgy and Bess”, Nina Simone and a Black spiritual, the poetry like a reconciliation for the dead and dying, an apologia for the violence of the Western world. This poetry is written at the apex of the life of the Poet, and is reminiscent of Sailing to Byzantium by W.B. Yeats:

“That is no country for old men. The young

In one another's arms, birds in the trees,

—Those dying generations—at their song,

The salmon-falls, the mackerel-crowded seas,

Fish, flesh, or fowl, commend all summer long

Whatever is begotten, born, and dies . . . “

The Poet is older, looking through the specter of the Spirit world that like a veil has begun to descend and enfold, a cinematic in grey sepia casting into nether worlds.

A fantastical read inside the Canadian landscape, a song of the Canadian West, an idea of celebration after a long journey. from Lamentations from Robert Hogg and above/ground press.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Sarah Mangold etc at AWP, Los Angeles CA, March 31, 2016

above/ground press author Sarah Mangold reads in Los Angeles, Thursday, March 31, 2016 as part of this year's Association of Writers and Writing Programs conference.

Poetic Research Bureau, 951 Chung King Rd., Los Angeles, CA 90012
7:00 pm to 8:45 pm

Publishers involved: Black Radish, Tinfish, eohippus labs, Staging Ground 
Cost: Free

A reading at the Poetic Research Bureau with: Black Radish Books, Tinfish Press, eohippus labs and Staging Ground, Featuring: Carrie Hunter, Sarah Mangold, Valerie Witte, David James Miller, Brittany Billmeyer-Finn, Eireene Nealand, Janice Lee, Michelle Detorie, Allison Carter, Tim Dyke, Deborah Meadows, Julia Wieting, Daniel Tiffany and Will Alexander.

Organization: Small Press Distribution and Poetic Research Bureau

Friday, March 18, 2016

VERSeFest Hall of Honour Inductees Announced: rob mclennan and Andrée Lacelle

above/ground press publisher, editor and author rob mclennan has been announced as one of this year's two 2016 VERSe Ottawa Hall of Honour inductees! He will be reading this coming Sunday at VERSeFest as part of the event.

mclennan is the third above/ground press author inducted, after William Hawkins (2013) and Amanda Earl (2014).

His most recent above/ground press chapbook is The Rose Concordance (2015). He will be releasing a limited-edition poetry chapbook, King Kong, for Sunday's ceremony and reading.

As the press release reads:
Ottawa, ON – Mar. 18, 2016 – VERSeFest, Ottawa’s International Poetry Festival, is pleased to announce this year’s inductees to the Hall of Honour, rob mclennan and Andrée Lacelle, for outstanding service to the Ottawa-Gatineau poetry community.

mclennan and Lacelle will be inducted into the Hall of Honour 7:00 P.M., Sunday, March 20th. The ceremony will also include readings by Parliamentary Poet Laureate George Elliott Clarke and Governor General Award winner Robyn Sarah.

For three decades, rob mclennan has been at the forefront of promoting poetry in the city of Ottawa. His literary productivity has been outstanding, with over two dozen trade books of poetry, fiction, and non-fiction. He has demonstrated tireless community leadership in his activities as the founder of the Ottawa small press book fair, the organizer of the factory reading series, and the editor and founder of Chaudiere Books, ottawater, The Peter F. Yacht Club, and above/ground press. All of these activities, alongside the generosity of his mentorship and his editorial flair, have helped to shape the creative ethos of this city.

Born in Hawkesbury, Andrée Lacelle has published a dozen books and received numerous literary accolades. She was the first to receive the French-language Trillium Book Award for Tant de vie s’égare (Éditions du Vermillon, 1994 [2007]) and she has also been shortlisted for the Governor General Award. Instrumental to the promotion of French-language literature, she has been a long-time contributor of book reviews. She has also reviewed Franco-Ontarian literature on the show “Panorama” (TFO, 2006-2010) and on her radio program “Au cœur des mots” (2011-2014). Her literary collaborations recently included co-writing and co-editing pas d’ici, pas d’ailleurs, Anthologie poétique de voix féminines contemporaines (Montélimar, Voix d’encre, 2012). Her poems have been translated into English and Czech.

The VERSeFest Hall of Honour recognizes established poets from the greater Ottawa-Gatineau region who have produced a substantial body of work and have made a significant contribution in building the poetry community as a leader and mentor.

Knox Presbyterian Church, 120 Lisgar St. Tickets are $10 per event, $20 for a weekend day pass, or $50 for a festival pass. Available online or at the door. For more information, visit

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Jeff Low reviews damian lopes' Yasser Arafat is Dead (2015) in Broken Pencil #70

Jeff Low was good enough to provide the first review of damian lopes' Yasser Arafat is Dead (2015) in Broken Pencil #70 (with the review itself online here). Thanks so much!
Yasser Arafat is Dead is a poetry chapbook published by the notable Ottawa press, above/ground, and it features the work of Damian Lopes, Barrie’s own Poet Laureate. It’s the first chapbook he’s published in 15 years and, understandably, there’s a lot of ground covered here: lost relationships, cultural heritage, bloodlines and borders. In terms of physical composition, there aren’t any frills. It’s simple, but clean looking: 16 poems printed on regular white paper, except for a page of blue for the title and back copyright pages. And save for the concrete poem on the front cover, there aren’t any illustrations. It’s a purist poetry chapbook, more or less. But in terms of convention, the poetry itself isn’t quite so pure. The first poem, “converse” is a 4-stanza, 21-line poem full of dense wordplay, stark imagery and enjambed thoughts: “clipped / consonants separated / by bakelite tie / tongues as teens / bash teeth”. The poem explores linear constructions of meaning and how those meanings are so often interrupted, undercut along a trajectory of complicated premises: everyday conversation, coming-of-age personal development, the written word in general. It’s pretty dense stuff. To give context to Lopes’ writing, it seems this chapbook is dedicated (albeit, critically) to his father, Anthony D. Lopes, who passed away in 2014. The concrete poem on the cover has the title text, “yasser arafat is dead” arranged in portrait – not of the prominent Palestinian leader, but of the late Anthony Lopes. It’s an interesting comparison. The poem, “remembrance day” further ties the two figures together: their shared “concealing smile / paths of resistance / navigated elusively / manipulated hand”, though of course, “a people likewise do not / pick their sire”. The next poem, “the call” bridges this sense of global conflict with domestic reality: “we have not spoken / since my sister’s wedding / my nephew is four”. But relationships are not lost by chance: “you evade my concern / but the mitosis / is slow”. Separation, like liberation, is not an easy process. Despite its critical perspective, the poems throughout Yasser Arafat is Dead form an act of recognition; the chapbook picks up the pieces of a broken relationship, not to put them back together, but to place them along a line of identification, no matter how arbitrary that placement might be. If this collection is any indication (and I think it is), Lopes’ future work is sure to be similarly thoughtful and expressive.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Rebecca Anne Banks reviews Hugh Thomas' Albanian Suite (2014)

Rebecca Anne Banks was good enough to review Hugh Thomas' Albanian Suite (2014) over at Subterranean Blue Poetry. Thanks, Rebecca! See the original review here. This is actually the fourth review of Albanian Suite, after Amanda Earl's review, one by Edric Mesmer, and another by Ryan Pratt over at the ottawa poetry newsletter.
This brilliant Chapbook, Albanian Suite is the gift of Hugh Thomas. Poet Thomas lives and works in Fredericton, New Brunswick as a mathematics professor at the University of New Brunswick. He has published Franzlations, “a collection of illustrated Kafka remixes”, chapbooks and been published in various journals 1cent #404, Numero Cinq, BafterC, dig, the Dusie poetry blog amongst others.

In the Acknowledgments, he presents his work as having spun off the poems of Albanian poet Visar Zhiti amongst others, not as a strict translation, because he does not understand Albanian, but this Writer suspects in the true spirit of Albanian.

In the background, down some cobblestone street on a rainy day, Paul Simon sings, “April, Come she will” “When streams are ripe and swelled with rain;/ May, she will stay,/ Resting in my arms again.”

This Writer appreciates and revels in the thick, rich images, as if paintings of a certain noblesse oblige, the lost and present circumstance of decay of the old world Europe, in the new. The metaphors in poetry drip with love and remorse and the passage of time, as if the stone remains despite the rain. From Music I heard with you, “The choir in the clouds hums a Bach cantata/ but someone in the world is coughing/ and Bach is galloping on horseback/ gazing into his crystal of disinterest./ The fierce demons pursuing him/ now just seem wistful.”

As if the last line of defense, the poetry can be heavily laconic as in The Strange Mine of Pork Poetry – “Not enough, those phased lectures of miasma given by a mime – I plugged myelf into the electrical circuit, getting an immediate shock./ The stratagem that sold me the ruins offered drums and furniture, contact with poets leery of bestsellers, literary arms, or –sob!-restaurant meals./ We made examinations down the strange mine of pork poetry, grew wings, became curious about the flowering shrubs among the ruins of ten maps and the vaults of fish.” Also in Sappho II – “cadence address catch dreams/ pays and agree, chlorate of poems,/ empathic, the old epidemic/ things themselves”.

Tucked into the body of the work are two beautiful New Age "translations":


"After so many



by one

out come the stars

I breathe in

the chill

left me

by the sky’s



a fugitive



in an eternal


(translated from the Italian of Giuseppe Ungaretti)



"When night comes,

I stand on the steps and listen,

stars are swarming in the garden

and I stand in the dark.

Listen, a star just fell with a clang!

Don’t walk on the grass in bare feet;

my garden is full of shards."

(translated from the Swedish of Edith Sodergran)

As if one long lament on love lost, the corruption of love in post-modern times, the passage of time, the grey and violence of post-modern times, the hard technocracy, the unsatisfactory nature of postmodern poetry, perhaps how everything has grown old. As if the world has existed inside some long ago war for too long.

Key of Roses, Bruges

for maria erskine

"Demobilized pigeons throng the park

where something happened.

We wait for each other. We cross the pool,

raising barely a ripple.

Some mythological animal

-you said griffin, I said narwhal-

stopped us with an extended claw,

said something in Flemish about life and gardens.

The windows were illuminated even if we weren’t,

and there was dancing among the chimneys.

Overhead, let down on a string out of heaven,

a glockenspiel, as such a total disappointment!"

A celebration of the New Age in poetry, thick with European sensibility and the love diaspora N.A. A fantastical read of Old World Europe, Albanian Suite by Hugh Thomas.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

new from above/ground press: The Peter F Yacht Club #24; VERSeFest special!

The Peter F Yacht Club #24
VERSeFest 2016 special
edited by rob mclennan
[see the link here for information on the previous issue]
[see the links here for information on the 2015 VERSeFest special issue, the 2014 VERSeFest special issue, the 2013 VERSeFest special issue, the 2012 VERSeFest special issue and 2011 VERSeFest special issue]
[see the link here for a profile of the publication, and here for some history of the publication]

With new writing by a host of Peter F Yacht Club regulars, irregulars and VERSeFest 2016 participants, including Cameron Anstee, Frances Boyle, Jason Christie, George Elliott Clarke, Anita Dolman, Amanda Earl, Claire Farley, Sanita Fezjic, Lea Graham, Gerald Hill, Liz Howard, Marilyn Irwin, Doyali Islam, Katherine Leyton, Shannon Maguire, David McGimpsey, rob mclennan, Colin Morton, Pearl Pirie, Roland Prevost and Monty Reid.

published in Ottawa by above/ground press
March 2016
a/g subscribers receive a complimentary copy
[a small stack of copies will be distributed free as part of the fifth annual VERSeFest, March 15-20, 2016]

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, March 11, 2016

Recipe Poetry: Cooking with Words with Marilyn Irwin

Thursday, March 24, 2016 ; 5:30 pm
1811 Dunton Tower, Carleton University, Ottawa

Hosted by the Carleton University English Literature Society
see the facebook invitation here:

Miguel de Cervantes once said: “All sorrows are less with bread”. Whether you’re omnivore/carnivore/herbivore/allergy-ridden/or a “normie” – the sentiMINT remains: food, to quote a wise woman, “is sustenance and nourishment of the body, mind, and soul. It is a means of connection within heritage and community. It’s aesthetically pleasing and, frankly, delicious.” If this resonates and you dAPPLE in writing poetry – this workshop is for you! Participants will learn a BRIEf history of “recipe poetry” and review a few examples before STIR Ftrying their own hand. Participants are asked to bring a few recipes that are palatable and POISSONally meaningful for inspiration during the writing exercise. EAT-ited versions of workshop output will be included in a collection to be published by shreeking violet press. Snacks hopefully will be PRODUCEd.

A graduate of Algonquin College’s Creative Writing program, winner of the 2013 Diana Brebner Prize, and a 2014 Hot Ottawa Voice, Marilyn Irwin’s work has been published by above/ground press, Arc Poetry Magazine, Bywords, In/Words, New American Writing, Matrix Magazine and others. Her sixth and most recent chapbook, transecure, was published by Puddles of Sky Press in 2016. She runs shreeking violet press in Ottawa.

Free event; all are welcome to attend!

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Katie L. Price reads w/ Rob Fitterman, Kelly Writers House, Philadelphia, April 13, 2016

above/ground press author Katie L. Price (author of the 2015 chapbooks BRCA: Birth of a Patient and Sickly, both still very much available) reads at Philadelphia's Kelly Writers House with Rob Fitterman.

"Whenever We Feel Like It"
Kelly Writers House
Arts Cafe
3805 Locust Walk
Philadelphia, PA 
April 13, 6:00pm

Free and open to the public. Bios for both authors, as well as further information on the event and Kelly Writers House, lives at:

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

D.G. Jones (January 1, 1929 - March 6, 2016)

The poet, editor and translator D.G. Jones has died.

above/ground press produced his chapbook, standard pose (2002), which was reprinted in its entirety in Ground rules: the best of the second decade of above/ground press 2003-2013 (Chaudiere Books, 2013). Since then, he'd a new poem in the “Tuesday poem” series, and further new poems in two different issues of the small poetry journal Touch the Donkey: two poems in #3 (October 2014) and a single poem in #6 (July 2015). He declined to be interviewed.

See my longer obituary/write-up here.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

The Robert Kroetsch Award Shortlist: Lea Graham + Laurie Fuhr

Congratulations to above/ground press authors Lea Graham and Laurie Fuhr, included on the 2016 shortlist for The Robert Kroetsch Award for Innovative Poetry!

Calgary poet and musician Laurie Fuhr is the author of the above/ground press chapbook accident: a chain reaction (1999), and Lea Graham, originally from Arkansas, is the author of the above/ground press chapbook Calendar Girls (2006) and co-author (with rob mclennan) of the collaboration metric (2011).

Graham's chapbook, This End of the World: Notes to Robert Kroetsch (Apt. 9 Press), is forthcoming in April.

Judged this year by George Elliott Clarke, the current Parliamentary Poet Laureate, the complete shortlist reads:
Micheline Maylor
Diandre Prendimano
Lea Graham
Ian Kinney
Geoffrey Babbitt
Paul Zits
Laurie Fuhr
The winner will be announced mid-March! See here for the full press release.

Monday, March 7, 2016

new from above/ground press: A Copyist, an Astronomer, and a Calendar Expert, Sarah Mangold

A Copyist, an Astronomer, and a Calendar Expert
Sarah Mangold

Frame as if faith

Transient unicorn
emphasize the whiteness

seek from chance
what nature dispenses

operate as indicator
by no means fortuitous

a place comparable
held by draperies 

published in Ottawa by above/ground press
March 2016
a/g subscribers receive a complimentary copy

Sarah Mangold
is the author of the forthcoming Boxer Rebellion (Kore Press), Electrical Theories of Femininity (Black Radish Books), and Household Mechanics (New Issues), selected by C.D. Wright for the New Issues Poetry Prize. Her most recent chapbooks include The Goddess Can Be Recognized By Her Step (dusie kollektiv) and Parlor (above/ground). She is the recipient of a NEA Poetry Fellowship and lives near Seattle.

This is her third chapbook with above/ground press, after Parlor (2012) and Cupcake Royale (2012).

Produced, in part, for appearance at the 2016 AWP Conference & Bookfair, Los Angeles Convention Center and JW Marriott Los Angeles CA, March 30-April 2, 2016.

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, March 4, 2016

Rebecca Anne Banks reviews Pearl Pirie's vertigoheel for the dilly (2014)

Rebecca Anne Banks was good enough to review Pearl Pirie's vertigoheel for the dilly (2014) over at Subterranean Blue Poetry. Thanks, Rebecca! See the original review here.
vertigoheel for the dilly is a fantastical Chapbook by Pearl Pirie that is a revelation of the Canadian fascist undertoad of the New Age. Poet Pirie has published 2 books of poetry with a third volume coming from BookThug in 2015. She lives in Ottawa and has launched chapbooks, blogs, a micro press and is a radio host, occasionally teaching poetry workshops.

As if howlin’ and howlin’ big at the moon, the enigmatic often dislocated wordscapes present a game, to see behind the curtain, what is being said, not said, what is happening, not happening, a truncated presentation, of the life and times in 21st century N.A. The seemingly disembodied thoughts brought together for a couple of lines, a free flowing Zen of creativity and landscape within very broken places.

The themes presented include ill health/growing old, the state of the ecology/the 21st century, a missing father, sex and conflicted love lives.

“polyps in the colon complement the diverticulosis./ a sort of spilled lego in the digestion.”

“Living La Vida Ibuprofen. Neutral sparrows/ are not imbued with mites.”

and the long poem goes on to mention the ecology of the oceans,

“the seas are emptying, the only choice left/ is the fish in the barrel. breed, fish, breed.”

About ¾ of the way through the long poem there is presentation of a missing father:

“the poem takes the sidewalk chalk “welcome home dad”/ powerwashes off the “wel”, or adds a chalk outline of a child.”

“in the market, rows of bouquets/ father is gone, doesn’t care which colour.”

In the background as if in dialogue with the Reader is the unfolding of a story of conflicted love perhaps the product poetry the manifestation of an underground war. It begins slowly,

"it's as romantic as the attachment of a couple's/ cuddle-bed-sores, growing into one scab."

“for all its 7,200 square kilometers it’s a small country really and time’s a bullet train across it. our time? oh, not ours.”

“look at the lupines, inhale the hummingbird. these are the panacea, the cancellation of everything short of Auschwitz.”

“‘hyperlogalia medical’. Did you mean hyperlocal paralegal? um,/ no. I mean stories overflow any social container or contentment./ only lack of mutual is pathological. otherwise, all glows.”

and like a dirge, the dance, the long poem heats up:

“frost-slapped cheeks applied via Avon, ‘talk to him’ you instructed,/ rub his hands, keep him with us. (we never had touched.)"

“sanguine sans glum, stand-up, wipe sebum, beach bum,/ I’ve been dead to you for 4 changes of addresses.”

As if drawing from the tradition of poetry influenced by war, perhaps T.S. Eliot’s The Wasteland, the introspective and disconnected thoughts in vertigoheel for the dilly are a distinctly Canadian take on a Western world bound by war.

Often poems work on different levels, something about the poem, draws you in, becomes somehow about you or about anyone that reads it, it becomes about us. vertigoheel for the dilly, a very powerful read from The People’s Poet, Pearl Pirie.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

bpNichol Award Call for Submissions‏

❡ Call for submissions to the 2016 bpNichol Chapbook Award ❡

The bpNichol Chapbook Award recognizes excellence in Canadian poetry in English published in chapbook form within Canada. The prize is awarded to a poetry chapbook judged to be the best submitted. The author receives $4,000 and the publisher receives $500. Awarded continuously since 1986, the bpNichol Chapbook Award is currently administered by the Meet the Presses collective.

Chapbooks should be not less than 10 pages and not more than 48 pages. The chapbooks must have been published between January 1st and December 31st of the previous year (2015), and the poet must be Canadian.

Interested authors or publishers should submit three copies of eligible chapbooks. Translations into English from other languages are eligible.

Submissions must be sent by Canada Post or courier (and not hand-delivered to a Meet The Presses collective member) and include a completed submission form or accurate facsimile (download the 2016 Submission Form from our web site:, a brief C.V. of the author, including address, telephone number, and email address. Publisher contact information (contact person, mailing address, e-mail address, telephone contact) must also be included. Incomplete submissions will not be considered.

The closing date for the 2016 bpNichol Chapbook Award is May 31, 2016. Submissions must be received by this date. If submission confirmation has not been received by e-mail by June 30, 2016, please send a query to Beth Follett at:

Send submissions to:
Meet the Presses / bpNichol Chapbook Award
113 Bond Street, St John’s NL A1C 1T6

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Eleni Zisimatos reviews Kristjana Gunnars' snake charmers : a cycle of twenty poems (2016)

Eleni Zisimatos reviews Kristjana Gunnars' snake charmers : a cycle of twenty poems (2016) over at the Vallum blog. Thanks so much! You can see the original review here. Come out to hear Gunnars launch the chapbook tomorrow night in Edmonton!
Kristjana Gunnars’, “snake charmers: a cycle of twenty poems” is a rich body of poems strongly evocative of place and mysticism. Her writing style is fluid, with colourful description and emotional tenor:

There is that empty chair, forever.
I can almost hear it whisper:

alone in the middle of the ceramic
tile floor, the herringbone blue, white,
crossing forever, a tossing sea of earth
and a garden table with no cups
and no utensils or flowers, fanning
round in royal blue mosaic, a red
cushion slightly off center on the brown
wicker chair.

This is our courtyard
of existence: these are the things in it,

this dark chair, the pillow
askance, the warm air, heavy, still thick
with the trace of your shadow.

The entire book resonates with lines like these, and the reader is able to enter into an exotic landscape where not everything is as it seems. It is well-worth the read. /ez

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Scott Bryson reviews rob mclennan’s The Rose Concordance (2015) in Broken Pencil #71

Scott Bryson was good enough to provide the first review of rob mclennan’s The Rose Concordance (2015) online, forthcoming in Broken Pencil #71 (with the review itself online here). Thanks so much! Although, by the by, this is not an ode to new parenthood in the way he suggests (he does presume a bit, I think); my daughter Kate arrived twenty-three years earlier...

Children are a disruptive force, as rob mclennan recently discovered. After the birth of his daughter, Rose, he found he rarely had time to write anything more than an “occasional stand-alone line” of poetry. Undeterred, he gathered some of those fragments for this chapbook. The Rose Concordance is mclennan’s ode to his daughter, and a meditation on his first few months as a parent, which were predominantly consumed by the study of Rose’s napping patterns (“sleep: her daily nemesis”), and his own futile quest for “u((n)in)t(e)rr((u)pte)d )s(l))ee)p.” The fragments mclennan included may have disjointed origins, but he’s married them into a focused (though sometimes abstract) commentary on new-parenthood. There’s a 2009 poetry collection by Angela Carr that’s also named The Rose Concordance, but the two books appear to be unrelated. Carr’s work was influenced by the 13th century poem, “The Romance of the Rose,” by Guillaume de Lorris. If you want to draw a parallel, however, mclennan is engaging in the stated purpose of “The Romance of the Rose,” to a degree: to teach others about the Art of Love. This collection is a love affair, though it’s the love of a parent for a child, rather than the saucier 13th century sort. is brief, but memorable. It’ll elicit both giggles — “When baby spits up supplement, it makes the / formula cows cry” — and a knowing nod from anyone who’s had children.