Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Gravenhurst, a failed record of a roadtrip in haibun, by Chris Johnson

a failed record of a roadtrip in haibun
Chris Johnson

I’m the youngest son of the youngest son of a youngest son. If I unwind the string for long enough, surely it will end at an explanation of why my family has unknotted from my mother’s outgoing, close-knit relations. My dad’s mother knit for me rarely. I never pulled those threads. She baked, kept mints in crystal jars, chuckled ignorantly at my adolescent selection of movies rented from the local video store on the weekends we’d stay in Gravenhurst. My mom’s father is alive for country road driving. On taking blind turns around corners on winding roads, he’d say that you should always prepare to meet someone coming the other way. Now I’m turning onto Essonville Line. The grandparent’s grave I’m approaching and the grandparent’s advice on my mind are incongruous. Out of nowhere, I’m a sum of less than two parts; a motto with odd genesis.

published in Ottawa by above/ground press
June 2019
a/g subscribers receive a complimentary copy

cover image: dalton derkson

Chris Johnson is the Managing Editor for Arc Poetry Magazine. His chapbook, Listen, Partisan!, is from Frog Hollow Press. @ceeeejohnson

To order, send cheques (add $1 for postage; in US, add $2; outside North America, add $5) to: rob mclennan, 2423 Alta Vista Drive, Ottawa ON K1H 7M9. E-transfer or PayPal at at rob_mclennan (at) or the PayPal button at

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

The Factory Reading Series: Adrienne Gruber, Chris Johnson + Ben Ladouceur, July 2, 2019

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

with readings by:
Adriene Gruber (Vancouver BC)
Chris Johnson (Ottawa ON)
+ Ben Ladouceur (Ottawa ON)
lovingly hosted by rob mclennan
Tuesday, July 2, 2019
doors 7pm/reading 7:30pm
Vimy Brewing Company
145 Loretta Ave N #1, Ottawa

Adrienne Gruber is the author of three books of poetry, Q & A (Book*hug), Buoyancy Control (Book*hug) and This is the Nightmare (Thistledown Press), and five chapbooks. She won the Antigonish Review’s Great Blue Heron poetry contest in 2015, SubTerrain’s Lush Triumphant poetry contest in 2017, and her chapbook Mimic was awarded the bp Nichol Chapbook Award in 2012. Originally from Saskatoon, Adrienne lives in Vancouver with her partner and two daughters.

Chris Johnson is the Managing Editor for Arc Poetry Magazine. His chapbook, Listen, Partisan!, is from Frog Hollow Press, and his chapbook Gravenhurst, a failed record of a roadtrip in haibun is newly out from above/ground press. @ceeeejohnson

Ben Ladouceur is the author of Mad Long Emotion, a poetry collection published by Coach House Books. His first collection, Otter, was selected as a best book of 2015 by the National Post, nominated for a Lambda Literary Award, and awarded the Gerald Lampert Memorial Award for best debut collection in Canada. In 2018, he received the Writers’ Trust Dayne Ogilvie Prize for emerging LGBT writers. He lives in Ottawa.

Monday, June 17, 2019

new from above/ground press: Trust Only the Beasts in the Water, by Conyer Clayton

Trust Only the Beasts in the Water
Conyer Clayton


My mac-and-cheese is cold. If I complain about it, I'm never allowed to eat again. I get into a van with the other children. We're driven across a windless landscape, skin-grey and hollow. The room we enter is full of beds. Blinds drawn. They tell us, the habits you make today will last for the rest of your lives. In the bathroom, I realize the mole on my neck has grown to epic proportions. I use it as a cape — fly to bed. As a blanket. It cannot be removed. I wouldn't let them if they tried. Burrow in. Sleeping bag. The habits I build today will last for the rest of my life. I will always be this silent girl wrapped in her own skin. 

published in Ottawa by above/ground press
June 2019
a/g subscribers receive a complimentary copy

cover image by Kelsea Shore

Conyer Clayton
is an Ottawa based artist who aims to live with compassion, gratitude, and awe. Her most recent chapbooks are: / (post ghost press, 2019),  Undergrowth (bird, buried press), Mitosis (In/Words Magazine and Press), and For the Birds. For the Humans. (battleaxe press). She released a collaborative album with Nathanael Larochette, If the river stood still, in August 2018. She won Arc's 2017 Diana Brebner Prize, 3rd place in Prairie Fire's 2017 Poetry Contest, and honourable mention in The Fiddlehead's 2018 poetry prize. She is a member of the sound poetry ensemble Quatuor Gualuor, and writes reviews for Canthius. Her debut full length collection of poetry is forthcoming in Spring 2020.

To order, send cheques (add $1 for postage; in US, add $2; outside North America, add $5) to: rob mclennan, 2423 Alta Vista Drive, Ottawa ON K1H 7M9. E-transfer or PayPal at at rob_mclennan (at) or the PayPal button at

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Michael Dennis reviews Emily Izsak's Twenty-Five (2018)

Our pal Michael Dennis (author of a couple of above/ground press titles himself) was good enough to provide the first review of Emily Izsak's Twenty-Five (2018) over at his blog. Thanks so much! You can see the full review here, but it includes:
Twenty-Five is one long poem and Today's book of poetry is just offering up snippets for your digestion.  Today's book of poetry believes Twenty-Five is a love poem for Ariel.  Today's book of poetry thinks Twenty-Five is taking the current cultural temperature from ground zero and with the patience of William Carlos Williams.  Today's book of poetry isn't exactly sure what is happening in Twenty-Five but we were constantly jolted, prodded, disassembled, shuffled, intrigued.

Maybe this is one long autobiographical confession delivered by a modern day hipster scat singer.  All Today's book of poetry knows is that "heaven's breadbox is empty."  Izsak has some wicked chops.

Friday, June 14, 2019

new from above/ground press: Apples and Roses, by Frances Boyle

Apples and Roses
Frances Boyle

You dissolved off the screen, Dot as child and young woman, mom to us,
I’d seek you hard in fairy tale quest, task the gaff-rigged Dorothy to spell

your name Dorothy, in the semaphore of her sails, (plant a rose for me)
launching from time-rocked ocean to tangled notion of wooden ship

and flying house whirlpooled in its funnel cloud, banging wind, the pull
of the tale, and the round table where Mrs. Parker drawled about girls

who wear glasses and Marie of Romania, her wit a charm to the circle of wits
vicious through they were, the round table of that New York moment,

while you were a girl in Toronto. Come night you vanished into the shapeless,
the ready intake of breath. Angels brought three apples, three roses, my purpose.

You planted roses on Angus St., between our house and the next. Driving
by after we’d moved away, you said the new people had uprooted them,

loss in your voice. Yet you dropped roses from your name—Dorothy
Rose to Dorothy Mary, excising your horrid aunt. Connecting

dots, you shed names. Like Dorothy Day, who said “don’t call me saint,”
you did not want to be dismissed so easily. Gift-wrapped, buds still furled.

published in Ottawa by above/ground press
June 2019
a/g subscribers receive a complimentary copy

cover artwork by Manahil Bandukwala

Frances Boyle
is the author of one collection of poetry, Light-carved Passages (BuschekBooks 2014) and a novella, Tower (Fish Gotta Swim Editions, 2018). Her previous chapbook, Portal Stones, won the Tree Reading Series chapbook manuscript contest. Other awards for her work include the Diana Brebner Prize and The Great Canadian Literary Hunt. A second poetry collection, This White Nest, is forthcoming with Quattro Books in 2019. Raised on the prairies, Frances now lives in Ottawa, where she is part of the editorial team for Arc Poetry Magazine, and reviews for Canthius. For more, see her website:

To order, send cheques (add $1 for postage; in US, add $2; outside North America, add $5) to: rob mclennan, 2423 Alta Vista Drive, Ottawa ON K1H 7M9. E-transfer or PayPal at at rob_mclennan (at) or the PayPal button at

Thursday, June 13, 2019

the Vancouver launch of Rob Manery's SOME magazine, June 23, 2019 w Stephen Collis, Nicole Markotić etc

above/ground press authors Stephen Collis and Nicole Markotić read along with Michael Barnholden, Ted Byrne, Louis Cabri, Clint Burnham and Catriona Strang in Vancouver on Sunday, June 23, 2019 as part of the launch of the debut issue of Rob Manery's new poetry journal, SOME magazine. Further details on where and how to pick up an issue once that becomes available.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

new from above/ground press: Here on Huron, by Michael Sikkema

Here on Huron
Michael Sikkema

 &        &

|bi |bi |
|la |la
|rs |rs|

long shot w/secret hero & sky

enter craft with cloned secret hero

extended fight scene in woods /junkyard
includes all the trimmings, crowbar ending 

published in Ottawa by above/ground press
June 2019
a/g subscribers receive a complimentary copy

Michael Sikkema
is interested in feral alphabets, bird-mushroom confluences, tree music, and the function of poetry for the human microbiome. His most recent book is You've Got a Pretty Hellmouth (Trembling Pillow Press), and consists of long poems that play with western, horror, and sci fi tropes. He lives in West Michigan.

To order, send cheques (add $1 for postage; in US, add $2; outside North America, add $5) to: rob mclennan, 2423 Alta Vista Drive, Ottawa ON K1H 7M9. E-transfer or PayPal at at rob_mclennan (at) or the PayPal button at

Sunday, June 2, 2019

The Factory Reading Series pre-small press book fair reading, June 21: Kirby, de Belle, Walsh, Thomas, Rogal, Flack. Bartram, Hetherington + Mohammadi

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

The Factory Reading Series
pre-small press book fair reading
featuring readings by:

Kirby (Toronto ON)
Julie de Belle (QC)
Matthew Walsh (Toronto ON)
Hugh Thomas (Montreal QC)
Stan Rogal (Toronto ON)
Brian L. Flack (Prince Edward County ON)
Victoria Hetherington (Toronto ON)
Jessica Bromley Bartram (Ottawa ON)
Khashayar Mohammadi (Toronto ON) (cancelled)
lovingly hosted by rob mclennan
Friday, June 21, 2019;
doors 7pm; reading 7:30pm
The Carleton Tavern,
223 Armstrong Street (at Parkdale; upstairs)

[And don’t forget the ottawa small press book fair, held the following day at the Jack Purcell Community Centre]

Kirby's earlier chapbooks include Simple Enough, Cock & Soul, Bob’s boy, The world is fucked and sometimes beautiful, She’s Having a Doris Day (knife | fork | book, 2017), and their full-length debut, This Is Where I Get Off (Permanent Sleep Press, 2019). Kirby is the owner/publisher of knife | fork | book

Born in Ottawa Ontario, but living in Quebec, Julie de Belle has been writing poetry in both official languages since her early teens. She was a member of the Literary Translators of Canada where she first trying her hand at translation with Words on the Move. In 2013, she published her first collection of poetry in both French and English (not in translation but rather as two separate minds) called 2FACES with Broken Rules Press. Julie performs regularly at Twigs & Leaves in Ste. Anne de Bellevue and at Kafe Poe in Pincourt. She has given poetry workshops and performances in local libraries and cultural centres. Julie de Belle is a retired ESL teacher, has taught in China and in James Bay, and now works freelance from home, both writing and translating.

Matthew Walsh is a queer writer from Nova Scotia whose work has appeared in Matrix, The Malahat Review, and Pulp Literature among others. His first book of poems was published with Goose Lane/ Ice House and is titled: These are not the potatoes of my youth.

Hugh Thomas is a poet and translator living in Montréal, where he teaches mathematics at UQAM.  Maze, his debut poetry collection, was published by Invisible Publishing in June 2019. His poetry has appeared in chapbooks published by Bookthug, Paper Kite Press, above/ground, and, most recently, shreeking violet press (in a collaboration with Stuart Ross and Dag Straumsvåg).

Stan Rogal is the author of more books of poetry and fiction than one can reasonably count. He didn't send an author biography, but I know he has a new book of fiction out this spring with Insomniac Press, and a handful of poetry chapbooks with above/ground.

Brian L. Flack is the author of three novels … In Seed Time, With A Sudden & Terrible Clarity, and When Madmen Lead the Blind, and a collection of poems … 36 … Poems. He has contributed literary & social criticism to books, periodicals, and academic journals, and written many reviews for newspapers. For several years, he was the host of a weekly radio programme, “Bookviews”, on Q-107, in Toronto. In another life that he enjoyed for almost 40 years, he was a Professor of English Literature. He lives with the painter Susan Straiton ... by the lake, in Prince Edward County, Ontario.

Jessica Bromley Bartram is an illustrator, graphic designer, and writer who lives in Ottawa with her partner Ian and beagle-esque dog Eleanor. Ghost Water Kiss is her first short story collection. She has also illustrated two picture books for Fitzhenry & Whiteside, Charles by S.E. Hume, which was published in 2018, and Summer North Coming by Dorothy Bentley, which will be released in spring 2019. Her work is included in 4PANEL 2, appears on the cover of Bird House by Ben Ladouceur, and she has published illustrations in Room Magazine (issue 42.1), CAROUSEL (issue 39), and The Globe and Mail.

Victoria Hetherington [pictured] is a Toronto-based writer, visual artist and the author of I Have to Tell You (0s&1s, 2014). Her debut novel Mooncalves appeared in April 2019 with Now or Never Publishing.

Khashayar Mohammadi is an Iranian-born writer/translator based in Toronto. He is the host of knife | fork | book’s Chapbook Club and the author of the chapbooks Moe’s Skin with ZED PRESS (2018) and Poetry as Omission forthcoming with Anstruther Press. His poems have also appeared in Poetry is Dead, Bad Nudes, Half a Grapefruit Magazine, Bad Dog Review and elsewhere across Turtle Island. He is currently working on a translation anthology of contemporary female Iranian poets.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Bill Neumire reviews Gil McElroy's LAOS (Some Julian Days) in Vallum 16:1

Bill Neumire was good enough to provide the first review of Gil McElroy's LAOS (Some Julian Days) (2018) in Vallum 16:1, "Connections," which was just released at the beginning of the month. Thanks so much! To see the full review, you have to pick up a copy of the issue, but the three-page review includes:
The speaker of these poems, though framed in a clipped, military aura, is a judgmental observer offering a tint of sadness in abstraction. It’s musical and emotionally effective, and he even becomes touchingly connected, or at least desiring of connection in lines like, “[t]he / very knowing / of you…” and “[t]ouching, / touching the ugly / of each other” from section 2457712. The continuous structure rings similar to Leaves of Grass or other projects of continuation, but unlike Whitman, it’s not an inclusively democratic gesture; rather, the language is quirky, Cummings-like in its jarring utterances that remain committed to sound, to alliteration, internal rhyme, and slant rhyme.

Monday, April 29, 2019

G U E S T [a journal of guest editors] #3 now available! guest edited by Geoffrey Young,

edited by Geoffrey Young

the third issue features new work by:

Elaine Equi
Ron Padgett
Terence Winch
Thomas Fink
Annabel Lee
Michael Lally
Jerome Sala
Lydia Davis
Barry Schwabsky
Clark Coolidge
Tony Hoagland

Tony Hoagland (In Memoriam)

Click here for the link to order

Bottom of Form
Author biographies:

Clark Coolidge lives in Petaluma, CA with his wife Susan. Recent books include Life Forms Here (Pressed Wafer 2016); Selected Poems 1962-1985 (Station Hill 2017); POET (Pressed Wafer 2018). He continues to play drums with the free-jazz band Ouroboros.

Lydia Davis’s most recent collection of stories is Can’t and Won’t (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2014). Her translation of Proust’s Letters to His Neighbor appeared in 2017 from New Directions, and a collection of her essays will be published by FSG in the fall of 2019. She is currently preparing a second volume of essays and completing a translation of stories by the Dutch writer A.L. Snijders.

Elaine Equi lives in New York City with her husband, the poet, Jerome Sala. Her books include Sentences and Rain, Click and Clone, and Ripple Effect: New and Selected Poems (all from Coffee House Press). A new collection, The Intangibles, is forthcoming in 2019. She teaches at New York University and in the MFA Program in Creative Writing at The New School.

Thomas Fink, Professor of English at CUNY-LaGuardia, is the author of 9 books of poetry, most recently Selected Poems & Poetic Series (Marsh Hawk P, 2016), 2 books of criticism, and 3 edited anthologies. His paintings hang in various collections. His work appears in The Best American Poetry 2007, selected by Heather McHugh and David Lehman.

Tony Hoagland was the author of seven collections of poetry, including Priest Turned Therapist Treats Fear of God, What Narcissism Means to Me, a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, and Donkey Gospel, winner of the James Laughlin Award of the Academy of American Poets. He was also the author of two collections of essays, Twenty Poems That Could Save America and Other Essays and Real Sofistikashun: Essays on Poetry and Craft. He received the Jackson Poetry Prize from Poets & Writers, the Mark Twain Award from the Poetry Foundation, and the O. B. Hardison, Jr. Award from the Folger Shakespeare Library. He taught for many years at the University of Houston. Hoagland died in October 2018.

Michael Lally’s thirtieth book came out in 2018, Another Way To Play: Poems 1960-2017, from 7 Stories Press, with an introduction by Eileen Myles. Award-winning books include The South Orange Sonnets (92nd Street Y “Discovery Award”), Cant Be Wrong (PEN Oakland Josephine Miles Award “For Excellence In Literature”), and It’s Not Nostalgia (American Book Award). He writes a blog called Lally’s Alley.

Annabel Lee is the author of Minnesota Drift (forthcoming from Wry), Basket (Accent Editions), Continental 34s (Vehicle Editions) and At the Heart of the World, translations of Blaise Cendrars (O Press). As publisher of Vehicle Editions, in 2018 she co-published, with her daughter Irene Lee, A Book of Signs: The Women’s March, January 21, 2017. She lives in Brooklyn.

Ron Padgett lives in New York and spends time in northern Vermont, near Canada. His forthcoming (2019) book of poems is Big Cabin (Coffee House Press). Other poems of his were used in Jim Jarmusch’s film Paterson. One of Padgett’s favorite contemporary poets is George Bowering.
Jerome Sala’s books include Corporations Are People, Too! (NYQ Books), The Cheapskates (Lunar Chandelier) and Look Slimmer Instantly (Soft Skull Press). He lives in New York City, with his wife, poet Elaine Equi. His blog – on poetry, pop culture and everyday life, is espresso bongo:

Barry Schwabsky’s most recent book of poetry is Trembling Hand Equilibrium (Black Square, 2015). Other publications include The Perpetual Guest: Art in the Unfinished Present (Verso, 2016) and Heretics of Language (Black Square, 2018); forthcoming is The Observer Effect: On Contemporary Painting (Sternberg, 2019). He is art critic for The Nation.

Terence Winch’s most recent book of poems is The Known Universe (Hanging Loose, 2018). Born and raised in the Bronx, he has lived in the Washington, DC area for many years. The son of Irish immigrants, he has also played traditional music all his life and was a founder of the original Celtic Thunder, the acclaimed Irish band. His most recent recording is a CD called This Day Too: Music from Irish America (2017).