Monday, December 30, 2019

The Peter F. Yacht Club Christmas party/reading/regatta: a report,

How many years have we been doing this now? The first holiday season event we did was most likely back in 2005, so we’ve been doing this for some time, and this past Saturday night was brilliantly fun, with a more lively crowd than usual, and readings by Yacht Club regulars and irregulars Stephen Brockwell, D.S. Stymeist, Frances Boyle, Conyer Clayton, Michelle Desbarats, Robert Hogg, Marilyn Irwin, Chris Johnson, Margo LaPierre, myself, Lee Parpart, David A. Epstein, Monty Reid and Chris Turnbull, who was accompanied by the pre-recorded voice of collaborator Bruno Neiva.  

Stephen Brockwell
As part of my introductions, I spoke of how The Peter F. Yacht Club originally began as an informal group that met to discuss writing back in 1999, morphing into a journal back in 2003 (which still produces an issue for each edition of VERSeFest). One could describe the entire history of The Peter F. Yacht Club as a way for a small group of us to engage with each other’s work, and get a sense of what each other’s current projects might be. So, what are you working on?

The room was packed! It was good to see so many people I feel I haven’t seen in some time, including Pearl Pirie, Jennifer Pederson, David O’Meara, Rachel Zavitz, Jean Van Loon, Grant Wilkins, Laurie Koensgen, Cathy McDonald-Zytveld and Mia Morgan. Unfortunately, Christine McNair and natalie hanna had to send their last-minute regrets (and were missed, obviously).

Robert Hogg (seated) speaking to Craig Carpenter
What was interesting, also, was that Craig Carpenter, a poet I haven’t seen or heard much from in some twenty years (since he left Ottawa for parts unknown) appeared out of the ether to record the audio of the event. The final editor of the late, lamented Carleton Arts Review back in the late 1990s (not long after my own tenure as same), he was in Ottawa throughout the 1990s in part as a student at Carleton University, writing poems as a member of Jim Larwill’s informal writing group, the OmniGothic NeoFuturists (you’ll have to find Jim to find out what he thought that all meant). Apparently Carpenter is currently in Kelowna, British Columbia at UBC, working with Karis Shearer, and assisting in digital transfer of literary readings from dozens of archived cassette tapes (etcetera).

D.S. Stymeist
Stephen Brockwell opened the event with three really sharp poems produced in homage, including one for Stuart Ross [one of the readers at last year’s event] and another for his mentor, Peter Van Toorn, all of which I hope to see in print soon. How does his work manage to remain so sharp? D.S. Stymeist, author of a debut collection from Frontenac House, read a couple of poems from his current work-in-progress, resting behind the bar for both support and added effect. Frances Boyle included a couple of poems from her new poetry title, This White Nest, recently out with Quattro Books (and she has a collection of short stories out this spring with The Porcupine’s Quill, Inc., also). And Conyer Clayton read from a selection of prose poems, including from her most recent above/ground press title (and did you know she has a full-length debut out this spring?).

Michelle Desbarats
Michelle Desbarats is utterly delightful, and it was grand to hear her read from new poems, especially with the admission that she is working on a new manuscript. Can it already have been more than twenty years since the appearance of her debut? I would love to be able to produce another chapbook as well (to follow this one I produced around the same time as her debut). I’ve also been very pleased to see the re-emergence of Robert Hogg over the past couple of years [see my review of his two latest chapbooks here], and his poem playing with the Robert Creeley phrase, Dig-it, was amazing.

Margo LaPierre
Chris Johnson read two poems that included raccoons. Is this a new theme, a new thread, emerging in his work? And Margo LaPierre read some new poems that sparkled. I’ve only heard her read a couple of times now, so clearly need to hear further, to get a better sense of what it is she’s working on. I also read a couple of poems, from my work-in-progress “Book of Magazine Verse” [some poems from the same manuscript live here], including one for Frank O’Hara’s birthday (which I have already scheduled to post on my own blog in March, for O’Hara’s actual birthday; watch for it).

Lee Parpart
Lee Parpart was in town from Toronto, and read a couple of poems, which was fun, as did her American pal, poet David A. Epstein, who not only read a couple of curious poems, but offered an invitation to us Ottawa “Peter F. Yacht Clubbers” to their Connecticut Yacht Club. Oh, the boating we could do. And Monty Reid regaled us with a sequence around sex, constructed from stories heard and collected.

a very attentive audience
The collaboration between Chris Turnbull and Portugese poet Bruno Neiva sound fascinating (apparently there’s already a chapbook produced of such I have yet to get my hands on); Chris was able to provide some audio of Neiva reading some selections from their work-in-progress, and then Chris read a couple.

Monty Reid
listening to Bruno Neiva's audio
It was a grand event! I am very pleased, and also, very exhausted. And then a group of us landed downstairs, for lengthy conversation and hijinks. How did I only manage to get home at 1:30am?

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

happy christmas, holiday, etcetera

Wishing you happy! for whatever it is you celebrate,

Thursday, December 19, 2019

new from above/ground press: S i n g ... d e s p i t e, by Pete Smith

S i n g ... d e s p i t e
Pete Smith

            Gold out of gold
            along alchemical contours
            beneath the compass
            a few degrees off human.
            dna  words as beacon
            across the deep articulation
            of dwarfed graffiti
            outside fucktown.
            An aspirant crossing the lake of fire;
            a geologist
            in a flickering fern enclosure
            an angular altar;
            a fat branch
            the narrow Christ.

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

The painting in the cover photograph is the smallest panel of an untitled triptych by Lyn Richards, 2017-19. 30 x 36”  76 x 91cms (at widest point). Oil on panel.

Pete Smith has published two previous chapbooks with above/ground press, Strum of Unseen (2008) & A New Love/An Aching Stone (2016); others with Kamloops Poets’ Factory, Wild Honey Press, Eire, Oystercatcher & Poetical Histories, UK; essays & reviews in print & on-line yon & hither. Shearsman Books, UK, published a collection Bindings With Discords in 2015. He lives in downtown Kamloops beside a creek & behind many trees. 

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

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Conyer Clayton co-wins the Robin Blaser Poetry Award!

Congratulations to above/ground press author Conyer Clayton, who has co-won, along with Bardia Sinaee, this year's Robin Blaser Poetry Award! Her above/ground press title, Trust Only the Beasts in the Water (2019) is still, of course, very much available. As the press release reads:

In the generous spirit of the season, we’re happy to announce that this year’s Robin Blaser Poetry Award and $1000 prize will be shared by two contestants: Bardia Sinaee and Conyer Clayton.

BARDIA SINAEE was born in Tehran, Iran and currently lives in Toronto. His poems have appeared in magazines across Canada and in several editions of Best Canadian Poetry in English. His first collection, Intruder, is forthcoming from Anansi in spring 2021.

CONYER CLAYTON is an Ottawa based artist who aims to live with compassion, gratitude, and awe. Her most recent chapbooks are Trust Only the Beasts in the Water (above/ground press, 2019), / (post ghost press, 2019), Undergrowth (bird, buried press, 2018) and Mitosis (In/Words Magazine and Press, 2018). Her debut full length collection of poetry, We Shed Our Skin Like Dynamite, is forthcoming Spring 2020 with Guernica Editions.

Look forward to reading the winning entries in our upcoming Spring Issue!

Once again, we’d like to thank all the contestants for their highly compelling entries, as well as our judge, Jen Currin for the time and care put into selecting our winners.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

The Peter F. Yacht Club regatta/reading/christmas party!

lovingly hosted by rob mclennan;

The Peter F. Yacht Club annual regatta/christmas party/reading

at The Carleton Tavern (upstairs)
233 Armstrong Avenue (at Parkdale Market)
Saturday, December 28, 2019
doors 7pm, reading 7:30pm

with readings from yacht club regulars and irregulars alike, including Frances Boyle, Stephen Brockwell, Conyer Clayton, Robert Hogg, Chris Johnson, Margo LaPierre, Lee Parpart, Monty Reid, Chris Turnbull and rob mclennan (and most likely some others).

remember how much fun last year was? or the year prior? or 2016? or 2015? or 2013? or 2012? etc

Sunday, December 1, 2019

issue seven: guest-edited by Susana Gardner

edited by Susana Gardner
the seventh (double!)issue features new work by:

Book one:
Melissa Benham
Megan Burns
Genève Chao
Annie Finch
Susana Gardner
K. Lorraine Graham
Jaimie Gussman

Book two:
Pattie McCarthy
Danielle Pafunda
Adra Raine
Jessica Smith
Alina Stefanescu
Michelle Taransky
Bronwen Tate
Elisabeth Workman

$6 + postage / + $1 for Canadian orders; + $2 for US; + $6 outside of North America

Canadian/American/International rates (including shipping


MELISSA BENHAM is the author of At Sea (Ebook: Duration Press & Printed chap: Hooke Press), Codeswitching (Subday Press) & the chapbooks repronounceable and surrealist object vs. narrated dream. Melissa is an alum of Naropa’s School of Disembodied Poetics. She ran the monthly Artifact Reading Series in San Francisco & Oakland for six years. She has taught poetry & playwriting to children & teens in Bay Area public schools, juvenile detention centers, and family homeless shelters. Currently, she works at Saint Mary's College of California managing their great books program and January term. Melissa lives in Oakland with poet, Brent Cunningham & their children, Mina & Jules.

two poems from SERAPH

In 1996, Hameroff and Penrose theorized a model of consciousness they called Orchestral Reduction (OR) in which the brain was seen as a quantum computer. 20 years later the brain went from a computer model to a quantum vibrational orchestra. Hameroff: "Brain patterns repeat over spatiotemporal scales in fractal like nested hierarchies of neuronal networks with resonances and interference beats." Poetry is a translation of emotional feeling overtones in the body received through the auditory thalamus when spoken and creating vibrational patterns within a whole brain resonance that entrains the participants. These poems are from a new collection called SERAPH in which the poet acts as tuning fork for the struck sound of eternal or universal sound. The sound is translated into language retaining its vibrational patterns in order to shift energy in beings open to receiving it at a level of vibrational healing. The only thing that interests in me in poetry anymore is its ability to restructure and reprogram the human system towards integration, wholeness and self-healing modalities.  

MEGAN BURNS is the publisher at Trembling Pillow Press ( She also hosts the Blood Jet Poetry Reading Series in New Orleans and is the co-founder of the New Orleans Poetry Festival ( She has been most recently published in Jacket Magazine, Callaloo, New Laurel Review, Dream Pop, and Diagram.

ELÆ [Lynne DeSilva-Johnson]
from Speculative Resilience Field Practice & Nonlinear Alchemical Disruptor Mechanism Protocol [in conversation with the Medicine Diaries and Systems Manuals of the Fewkin]

#documentingpresence :: #flora || #brooklyn 40.6782° N, 73.9442° W || working with the #disruptormechanism protocol every day. How can asking yourself different questions of your environment change your body? Your mind? Your senses? Ultimately, can it rewire your perception and shift your ontological relationship to what you “know” about your self, language, the world, place, others? I say yes.  The plants have been VERY chatty recently. Are you #listening? #nonhumanallies #vegetalconsciousness #plantcommunication #relationalaesthetics #socialpractice #fieldwork #documentation #experiment #experience #ritual #mindfulness #intention #selfhacking #selfcare #howtohuman #culturehacking #contemporaryart #conceptualart #art #artistsoninstagram #fluxus #somatics #writing #notes #fieldrecordings #fieldguide #opensource #peer2peer #invitation #project

It's part of a multipart "disruptor mechanism protocol" that is then again part of a larger project -- I'm attaching a description of the project I wrote up for a related application -- #documentingpresence is an operationalized self-hacking re/orientation mechanism I'm first testing out on myself using a set of explicit channels for observation and documentation, with the goal of reprogramming body-->community-->human systems--->biome for sustainability and nurturance (and survival, to be explicit)

ELÆ [Lynne DeSilva-Johnson is an multimodal creator and scholar, addressing intersections between persons, language, technology, and system change. Recent features include Big Echo, Matters of Feminist Practice, and The Exponential Festival; the hybrid collection Sweet and Low : Indefinite Singular as well as Boddy Oddy Oddy, a collaborative ekphrastic book with painter Georgia Elrod, are forthcoming. They teach at Pratt Institute, and are Founder/Creative Director of The Operating System.

2 poems for Megan Burns

GENÈVE/GENEVA CHAO normally writes between the margins of language as stranger and native, but is occasionally moved (here by the misogyny of the legal system, prevalence of legal abuse as an interpersonal weapon, and parental and societal disregard for children) to document other things.

The Empress is Speaking, Binding Spell

I no longer separate spirit from body, in life or in poetry.  So I use meter as a spell to move me through the poem --and to move the poem through itself, as I revise. Through experience in poetry, healing, and ritual, I have uncovered/developed a set of metrical correspondences.  For example, “Binding Spell” is in the meter of strength (a.k.a. trochaic) and “Empress” in the meter of spirit (a.k.a. amphibrachic). 

ANNIE FINCH is the author of The Poetry Witch Little Book of Spells, just out from Wesleyan U Press, along with Spells: New and Selected Poems and 16 other volumes of poetry and poetics.  She currently teaches in the low-res MFA at St. Francis College, Brooklyn as well as in private ms. consultations and in her trademark Wisdom of Rhythmic Language workshops (

2 poems from The Sea Argots

Writing as impulse and making sense of the inward as well as outer world. Writing as becoming and self-expression. Writing as it can contain multitudes bestowing forms akin to craft and creativity that begets the muse or poetic magic. Letters and words bustle about in the mind and in dreams like sea-words of waves and a culling pursuit of thus. The employment of words as self-expression and creative representation is as healing as it is generative and sustaining.

SUSANA GARDNER is the author of three full-length poetry collections: [ lapsed insel weary]  (the tangent press, 2008), Herso (Black Radish, 2011) and CADDISH (Black Radish Books, 2013).  Her latest book, Somewhere Upon a Time / Oceanids & Dreampomes is forthcoming. She lives on an island off the New England coast where she tends books, writes and curates the online poetics journal and experimental press, DUSIE.
I don't know. / Nothing here., I was going to call it, "A Brief History of Breast Pumps.", The Perspective of This Article is Limited and Mostly Uninteresting

These poems were my attempt to write discrete poems with line breaks. I managed to stick with the line breaks, mostly, but they became a series, like everything I write. When I wrote them, my son was 8 months old and nursing frequently, which means I spent a lot of time expressing breastmilk at work.

K. LORRAINE GRAHAM is a writer and visual artist. She is the author of TERMINAL HUMMING (Edge Books, 2009) and THE REST IS CENSORED (Coconut Books, 2015). After a decade in California and an MFA at the University of California San Diego, she lives in Washington, DC with her family.

JAIMIE GUSSMAN lives and works as a writer, teacher, and potter in Kaʻaʻawa. Her first book, Anyjar, was published in 2017 by Black Radish Books. She is a recipient of the Ian MacMillan Prize (2012) and the Rita Dove Poetry Award (2015). She also has three chapbooks: Gertrude's Attic (Vagabond Press, 2012), The Anyjar (Highway 101 Press, 2011), and One Petal Row (Tinfish Press, 2011). Gusman’s work can be found in the anthologies Jack London is Dead (Tinfish Press 20 2013), All We Can Hold: Poems of Motherhood (Sagehill Press, 2015) and The End Of The World Project (Moria Books, 2019). She is the founder of Mixing Innovative Arts reading series in Honolulu, holds a PhD in Literature and Creative Writing from the University of Hawaii, and an MFA in Poetry from the University of Washington.

A selection of poems from “rogationtide”

“rogationtide” is part of a long (as yet untitled) series which began as daily writing practice— a goal I regularly fail to meet. The poem is drafted without regard to form & shaped into couplets after some time away from the material. I am a very slow writer— & I came to this particular process in an effort to just get the work down whenever the time to write presented itself. This poem is about working with the time one has.

PATTIE MCCARTHY is the author of seven books of poems, including the forthcoming wifthing (Apogee Press). She is also the author of over a dozen chapbooks, including the forthcoming mercy, a midden (Bloof Books). She is a nontenure track Associate Professor at Temple University, where she teaches creative writing, literature, & first year writing. 

3 poems from “A Mother Named Her Child Rumor”

“I have always had to, and will always have to, live consciously within the meat of the body, and this meat life influences every fiber of my politics/poetics.” “In poetry I try to do at least one thing consistently: to attract the gaze, to pin or fix it in place, and then show it those sights which brutalize, horrify, repulse, or shame it.”

DANIELLE PAFUNDA is author of ten books, including Beshrew (Dusie Press), The Book of Scab (Ricochet Editions), The Dead Girls Speak in Unison (Bloof Books), and the forthcoming Spite (Ahsahta Press 2020). She teaches at Rochester Institute of Technology.

Process Statement – A Poem for Poets
When you learn something new you can’t unlearn it, the world as you know it rearranges around this new knowledge, all the relations change.

There are things after you don’t understand before you are.

It didn’t make sense to me when they told me. Now I warn the others. I recognize their faces unconvinced.
Remembering is an act of imagination. I try to imagine what it was like before I knew, in order to tell it.

Parents say to their children: When you have kids, you’ll understand.

Must it be that we don’t tell people things so that they will know it. But for some other reason. Not for reason.

ADRA RAINE, author of Want-Catcher (The Operating System, 2018), recently completed her PhD in contemporary U.S. poetry at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and is currently working on a new project titled "Undissertating," which is or isn’t what it sounds like it might be

"14 Monostichs Make a Fruitcake"
"I Wanted An Emptying Out-Poem"

"14 Monostichs Make a Fruitcake" baked itself after I failed an easy fruitcake recipe and started wondering how the word fruitcake became an insult. I'm always fascinated when delicious things turn hurtful in the mouth. Speaking of mouths, I'd been playing with monostiches, or single-line poems, and the itch to subvert the form rubbed against the urge to play with the angel on the pedestal, to poem her out a little. It struck me that monostichs resemble one single black stitch over female lips and so I counted to see how many stitchs it would take to sew my mouth shut. Fourteen will do it. 

"I Wanted An Emptying Out-Poem" came out of a poetry reading where two friends read poems about recent school shootings and police violence against black bodies. In their introductions to the poem, Lamar and Lauren mentioned this feeling of being emptied out by the cruelty. I wanted an emptying-out poem.

ALINA STEFANESCU was born in Romania and lives in Alabama with four incredible mammals. Find her poems and prose in recent issues of Juked, DIAGRAM, New South, Mantis, VOLT, Cloudbank, New Orleans Review Online, and others. Her debut fiction collection, Every Mask I Tried On, won the Brighthorse Books Prize and will be available in May 2018. She serves as Poetry Editor for Pidgeonholes and President of the Alabama State Poetry Society. More arcana online at or @aliner.

5 August 2010 / Buffalo, 6 August 2010 / Buffalo

I write by hand at night, before bed, with a cup of tea.

JESSICA SMITH is the author of numerous chapbooks including Trauma Mouth (Dusie 2015) and The Lover is Absent (above/ground press, 2017) and three full-length books of poetry, Organic Furniture Cellar (Outside Voices 2006), Life-List (Chax Press 2015), and How to Know the Flowers (Veliz Books 2019). She is a member of the National Book Critics Circle and teaches at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. 

ABOUT JEW poems from Abramowitz-Goldberg

Statement of poetics:
My rabbi said on Facebook that he’s moving to Providence. My high school friend’s dad died of Cancer, suddenly.  There’s a group text about it. I feel nothing. I should say out loud: he coached my 4th grade basketball team. My dad said he didn’t play me because I was Jewish. I was a bad bad basketball player.  Later I’d read Bad Bad by Chelsea Minnis and wonder how she knew exactly how to talk about being Jewish without being Jewish. I open up another tab to research if She’s Jewish.  At the same time I text my friend Emily, “Is Chelsea Minis Jewish?” There’s a news story about Frank Sherlock being in a white supremacist band. I’m scared to search twitter to see the extent of it.  The most Jewish thing about me is that I make jokes about tragedies.  When I was getting my MFA at Iowa, my boyfriend and I were in the same workshop with the poet Mark Levine.  Mark said the experimental poets wouldn’t want me since I went to Iowa, and the Iowa poets didn’t feel pleasure or reward reading my difficult poems, so that was that.  I didn’t know I would be charged with choosing the wrong family. So, all my dads are white men who teach at Universities and wear theory goggles. They were born before I was born! My boyfriend bought me a holocaust calendar for my birthday that semester. Is Chelsea Minnis Jewish? Emily says Chelsea Minnis poems are really WASPY.

MICHELLE TARANSKY is the author of Abramowitz-Goldberg (Factory Hollow, forthcoming 2019), Sorry Was in The Woods (Omnidawn, 2013) and Barn Burned, Then, selected by Marjorie Welish for the 2008 Omnidawn Poetry Prize. Taransky teaches courses in critical and creative writing at Penn and is the Reviews Editor for the online poetry and poetics journal Jacket2.


Here are two sets of three poems that speak to some of the different ways I approach composing poetry. The first set draws on Lorine Niedecker, in particular the five-line form she developed after reading a bunch of haiku. I tried to use a specific moment to create a poem that might serve as an amulet or charm centered around a particular task or affective state. I’m interested in use here: other poems from the same series offer themselves as invocations “To Accept Dailiness,” “Against Choking,” and “For Respite,” for example. The second set draws on readings of Harryette Mullen (and Hoa Nguyen’s generative workshop) and plays with sound and idiom. For these prose poems, I started by generating a list of words with various kinds of affinity (sonic and semantic) and then worked with them to see what associations, patterns, and memories were sparked by their juxtapositions. Both sets are thinking through mothering—its exhaustions and intimacies.

BRONWEN TATE is an assistant professor of Writing and Literature at Marlboro College, a tiny radically egalitarian educational utopia usually buried in snow in southern Vermont. She is the author of six poetry chapbooks, most recently Vesper Vigil (above/ground, 2016). Her poems and essays have appeared in the Journal of Modern Literature, 1111, Denver Quarterly, LIT, TYPO, and elsewhere.

Limbo Figure, Infernal Figure

Note on Process: Poetix of scraps and collapses Poetix of having survived try carmelite water try tantrum try what salary this is stolen time and I am the gluttonous thief sea leggy and mutant writing shanties in the light of google docs while the villagers sleep try divination Poetix of more than x, y and more than o, y and more than a, y and y is always propulsion Poetix of inextricability, the society of the tentacle, of root magic the future is botanical Poetix of rupture and caesura as incision slash wand slash joint slash presence Poetix of finally reading My Emily D and being butterflied by it Poetix per the genius of my writing wives Poetix of Perpetuity and Gargantua and Electra and Margery Poetix of too bad per Aase Berg “It’s too bad language had to be transformed into a market-economy power apparatus for pleasure-opposed morons” Poetix of countercraft & paradisiacal alchemy per the word plus a dash (of blood or cum or y) plus a dash (of salt or dirt or y) plus word plus space equals transformation Poetix of the changingness of figuration Poetix of the sway back and forth and back the rocking and rocking even years after their infancy but always body memory rhyming with a still underslept and mad and messy and excessive and tenderly good enough volition.

ELISABETH WORKMAN is a poet and writer currently living in Minneapolis. She lives in the disembodied realm here: