Friday, August 10, 2018

above/ground press 25th anniversary essay: Chris Turnbull

This is the twenty-seventh in a series of short essays/reminiscences by a variety of authors and friends of the press to help mark the quarter century mark of above/ground. See links to the whole series here.

Twenty five years is nothing to sneeze at

1998 or 1999: A few of us wended our way to a reading on/near Granville St. in Vancouver; rob had embarked on a x-country tour with others that sounded literarily athletic and made his way to Vancouver. I remember a poem that involved apples. That was my first introduction to rob, rob’s writing, and rob’s publishing; rob was ebullient in person that night. I remember above/ground and STANZAS; I liked the form, the give-and-take of the photocopy, staples, the sizing and 20lb. Chapbooks such as these are clearly ideal for travel, for leaving about, for the grace of readings by multiple people, for affordability.

Ambitiously, on one of the rainy days this year, I decided to clear books off my shelves and give some away. Nothing’s alphabetical. As I started to pull, I noticed a sort of colourful splash across the shelves. These were above/ground chapbooks. They filled the floor (I should taken a pic); the plenitude of these chapbooks, which I could look at, in a way, all at once, was revealing. Others have written about the variability of writing that above/ground offers; it supports/fosters literary engagement and presents an intriguing diversity of forms, poetic ventures, and writers. rob’s publishing inclusivity; the generosity of distribution — through readings, affordable subscriptions, hand-offs of poetry packets from rob and other poets, and inevitable “found” chapbooks — at used bookstores, readings, or other poetry venues — makes accessing writing — local and across distances — easy. The longevity of above/ground provides consistency. Exposure and access are important elements of literary culture. From there, curiosity, interest, and x are up to the reader. above/ground is an invitation, the best sort of backyard or porch.

Chris Turnbull is the author of continua (Chaudiere Books 2015) and [ untitled ] in o w n (CUE Books 2014). She has published three chapbooks: Shingles (Thuja1999); continua (above/ground 2012); Candid (dusie kollektiv #8 2014).

She is currently collaborating with text artist/writer bruno neiva; recent work can be found on 3am: Duos #9, and TCR 3.35 (Spring 2018); other visual and text based work can be found online, in print, and within landscapes. She curates rout/e, a footpress whereby poems are planted on trails:

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