Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Poets in Profile : Sean Braune,

above/ground press author Sean Braune, author of the vitamins of an alphabet (above/ground press, 2016), has participated in Open Book: Toronto's "poets in profile" series. You can see his response to their questionnaire here.

Friday, July 22, 2016

above/ground press : summer sale on 2016 (so far) titles!

Given my hopes that Canada Post won't actually have that near-threatened mail strike, I'm celebrating their recently-announced re-attempts at negotiation with a summer sale! [unrelatedly, as you know, I've also been pulling out an absolute TON of backlist that is still available in very small amounts]

Until the end of August, 2016: you can have any five above/ground press 2016-so-far titles for $20 (plus shipping; rates below). That work? I've made a ton of things so far this year!

Titles in the current sale include:

10 Poems
Christian Bök

Taxicab Voice
Neil Flowers

Stephen Collis

Touch the Donkey : tenth issue,
with new poems by Meredith Quartermain, Mathew Timmons, Renée Sarojini Saklikar, Luke Kennard, Shane Rhodes and Amanda Earl.

Partial List of Things I’m Responsible For
Lesley Yalen

ERASURE: A Short Story
Braydon Beaulieu

King Kong
rob mclennan

Three Bloody Words : Twentieth Anniversary Edition
Stephanie Bolster

A New Love/ An Aching Stone
A double-cento out of Yehuda Amichai & Mahmoud Darwish
Pete Smith

Vesper Vigil
Bronwen Tate

Odds Are
lary timewell

After the Battle of Kingsway, the bees—
~ from volume 2 of thecanadaproject, The Heart of This Journey Bears All Patterns, commonly known as Thot-J-Bap, a long poemRenée Sarojini Saklikar

Touch the Donkey : ninth issue,
with new poems by Stephen Collis, Laura Sims, Paul Zits, Eric Schmaltz, Gregory Betts, Anne Boyer, Sarah Cook and François Turcot (trans. Erín Moure).

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

panpiped panacea / панацея, ten poems by Yuri Izdryk
translated from the Ukrainian by Roman Ivashkiv and Erín Moure

the vitamins of an alphabet
Sean Braune

snake charmers : a cycle of twenty poems
Kristjana Gunnars

Touch the Donkey : eighth issue,
with new poems by Mary Kasimor, Billy Mavreas, damian lopes, Pete Smith, Sonnet L’Abbé, Katie L. Price, a rawlings and Gil McElroy.

from Lamentations
Robert Hogg
Second (expanded) edition

A Precarious Life on the Sea
Sarah Burgoyne

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

Also: forthcoming titles include new chapbooks by Carrie Hunter, George Bowering, Geoffrey Young and John Barton. Watch for details soon on the big twenty-third anniversary launch/reading/party, as well as the usual fall notice for 2017 subscriptions! And for further backlist, check out the link-list of names on the sidebar, just to your right...

Don't go, Canada Post, we love you! (but you need to pay people fairly and get rid of the guy at the top. I mean, really...

Friday, July 15, 2016

The Factory Reading Series: Best, Kerrison + Brockwell, July 22, 2016

span-o (the small press action network - ottawa) presents:
The Factory Reading Series:

Ashley-Elizabeth Best (Kingston)
Stephen Brockwell (Ottawa)
+ Jane Kerrison (Ottawa)
lovingly hosted by rob mclennan
Friday, July 22, 2016;
doors 7pm; reading 7:30pm
The Carleton Tavern,
223 Armstrong Street (at Parkdale; upstairs)

Ashley-Elizabeth Best
[pictured] is from Cobourg and now lives and writes in Kingston. Her work has appeared, in CV2, Berfrois, Grist, dusie, Ambit Magazine and The Literary Review of Canada, as well as in the chapbook Now You Have Many Legs to Stand On (above/ground press, 2015). Her debut poetry collection Slow States of Collapse was shortlisted for the 2015 Robert Kroetsch Award for Innovative Poetry and was published with ECW Press in April of 2016.

Stephen Brockwell is an Ottawa poet and small business schlub. His poems are forthoming in Arc and Inwords. He is preparing workshops on poetry and philosophy for the Ottawa Public Library. His chapbook Where Did You See It Last? appeared in June with Ottawa's Textualis Press, and he has a new poetry title out this fall—All of Us Reticent, Here, Togetherwith Mansfield Press.

Jane Kerrison is an Ottawa based writer whose work has appeared in Literary Laundry, carte blanche, Doll Hospital Journal, and Bywords, among other publications. She will soon launch a poetry centered Etsy store called Small Poetics, where she combines found poetry, tea and water colour paper into art.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Bardia Sinaee reviews Ashley-Ezliabeth Best's Now You Have Many Legs to Stand On (2015) in Arc Poetry Magazine #80

Toronto poet Bardia Sinaee was good enough to review Ashley-Ezliabeth Best's Now You Have Many Legs to Stand On (2015) as part of a group chapbook review in the summer 2016 issue of Arc Poetry Magazine. Thanks so much! This is actually the second review of Best's chap, after Robert Anderson's review at Fjords Review. And of course, Best's wee chapbook is still very much available!

The review reads, in part:
Amid these various postures and gestures, Ottawa’s twenty-three-year-old above/ground press is refreshingly agnostic. The chapbooks’ design and typesetting are decidedly plain (think clipart and Word formatting), the binding consists of a single staple through the spine, and this material banality effectively foregrounds the unique characteristics of the writing. The poems in Now You Have Many Legs to Stand On, a recent above/ground release by Kingston-based poet Ashley-Elizabeth Best, stand out for their unsentimental takes on sex, emotional codependency, addiction and the body. Though her speakers don’t eschew affectation or misdirection, Best doesn’t use irony as a crutch. She can be arrestingly frank, as when she says, “I’m so tired of my whole life revolving / around my body,” but also reserved, wise and weary like in the Solie-esque travel poem “Stones and Their Stories”:
The long sweep of faces, eyes
grazing the dark of the bus.
Fashioning myself without sleep,
eyeing dynamite striations
in roadside rock, one feeling
nesting in another.
Unifying the various registers in which these poems speak are a few consistent (at times overly pervasive) motifs. Just about every poem describes the human body using aspects of the landscape or vice versa, so we get “the whitened roadways of scars,” “the bus full / of bodies felled in awkward rest,” “the charred chest of a tree,” “the fjord of my thighs” and “the harbour of my belly.” Whereas in “Stones and Their Stories,” the projection of one’s mindscape onto dynamite striations, or admissions like “I like to know things by placing / them in my mouth, sappy pine / bark, balled paper,” are understated and sensually interesting, the body-landscape motif is elsewhere more of a distraction. The chapbook’s title poem is riddled with too many of-constructions: “the slushy rhythm of the lake” is heard “in the shambling belly of conflicted currents,” a.k.a. “the brawling / waters of the lake,” out of which one pulls oneself onto “a muscled first of precambrian shield” which is also “the lake’s throat”; then there’s “the blood of light” and “grief chewing into the cartilage of the seasons.” The compounding and at times conflicting metaphors ultimately tax the reader so much that the poem’s expressions of fear, want and grief come off as superficial or, at the very least, unexplored.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

"poem" broadside #338 : poem for z-­girl, by jenna jarvis

  1. i wonder if girl is a gender distinct from woman, meaning, i wonder if this concept can transcend fatphobia, or a cultural distaste for post­pubescent, soft­enough female bodies

  1. i understand, to the best of my ability, the implications of the story i’m telling, though i acknowledge that i don’t understand the implications of my corpus

  1. on tumblr, i saw a scan of a black­and­white photograph. this is in itself the meaty part. it’s strange to see black­and­white film photography on social media during the long twenty­first century. photography developed on black­and­white film used to be my tool for tracing a line in the sand between me and the next generation. if your parents don’t have any black­and­white photos of you, then you’re young & stupid. now i think of it, i was drawing a line between whose parents could afford colour film and whose couldn’t

  1. she’s carrying a skateboard with her left hand, she’s wearing a helmet & highwaisted jeans, or are they highwaisted shorts? is that a catcher’s mitt or a gardening glove? it’s on her right hand, obviously, because her skateboard is on her left. does she ride goofy? her kneepads have some sort of logo on them

i thought the pads were roses on her kneecaps

  1. duono if it’s the 1970s or the 90s all night radio guitars strangle sleep­deprived we share circumstance not space homelike suburban aching

  1. we should be so lucky, us unbound left­handed girls

poem for z-­girl
by jenna jarvis
produced for the ottawa small press book fair,
June 17-18, 2016
above/ground press broadside #338
jenna jarvis is a poet and a barista. her writing has appeared in puritan magazine and keep this bag away from children, as well as in various zines and microblogs.

Monday, July 11, 2016

new from above/ground press: 10 Poems, by Christian Bök

10 Poems
Christian Bök

Karawane, von Hugo Ball

jolifanta bambla o falli bambla
grossiga mpfa habla horem
egiga goramen
higo bloiko russula huju
hollaka hollala
anlogo bung
blago bung
blago bung
bosso fataka
u uu u
schampa wulla wussa olobo
hej tata gorem
eschige zunbada
wulubu ssubudu ulu wassubada
tumba bahumf
kusa gauma

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

The pieces in “10 Poems” were lifted from the website Lyrikline (, where audio of all ten pieces can also be found at:

Produced for free distribution as part of “Christian Bök Unbound,” a Calgary celebration of Christian Bök before he relocated to Darwin Australia, May 29, 2016.

Christian Bök is the author of Crystallography (Coach House Press, 1994), a ’pataphysical encyclopedia nominated for the Gerald Lampert Award for Best Poetic Debut, and ’Pataphysics: The Poetics of an Imaginary Science (Northwestern University Press, 2001). His book Eunoia won the 2002 Griffin Poetry Prize. Bök has created artificial languages for Gene Roddenberry’s Earth: Final Conflict and Peter Benchley’s Amazon. His conceptual artwork has appeared at the Marianne Boesky Gallery in New York City as part of the exhibit Poetry Plastique. His latest work is The Xenotext: Book 1 (Coach House Books, 2015). Until this spring, he taught at the University of Calgary.

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

Wednesday, July 6, 2016