Thursday, December 30, 2021

new from above/ground press: 13 more songs the radio won’t play …, by Stan Rogal

13 more songs the radio won’t play …
Stan Rogal

Comes Love

Why, baby, why, baby, why, baby, why?
Questions of the soon-to-be-slain.
Where fat grim orange jack-o-lanterns leer
& empty vases you endow with flowers
fill the gloom.
That’s all brother (don’t try hiding).
Comes love, nothing can be done.

It’s a cheating situation, yes?
Love shall be blonder, slimmer, younger.
Will be the bomb, the door in the wall,
an offer of instantaneous intimacy,
of perpetual (e)motion.
That’s all brother (don’t try hiding).
Comes love, nothing can be done.

Ah, sweet easing away of all edge, evil & surprise!
The sometimes mouth that masticates or gags.
Everything that acts is actual.
(I believe it’s the auratic quality that sucks one in).
Comes a sad song, give your nose a little blow.
Comes the devil, you can tell him where to go.
Comes love?
That’s all brother (don’t try hiding).         
Comes love, nothing can be done.

published in Ottawa by above/ground press
December 2021
a/g subscribers receive a complimentary copy

Stan Rogal
lives and writes in relative obscurity in the hamlet known as Toronto. He has been rumoured to have published widely and is the apparent author of 25 books (6 novels, 7 story and 12 poetry) and several chapbooks (most with above/ground press). He is a former Master bowler and retired dart champion.  

This is Rogal’s sixth above/ground press chapbook, after In Search of the Emerald City (1997), “THE CELEBRITY RAG: Opá” (STANZAS #44, March 2006), All Watched Over By Machines of Loving Grace (2004), muscle memory (2018) and ALAS & ALACK (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 rob_mclennan (at) or the PayPal button at

Wednesday, December 29, 2021

The Peter F Yacht Club #30 : the virtual issue,

I know the holidays just aren’t the same without our usual Peter F. Yacht Club Christmas party/reading/regatta, set between Christmas and New Year’s Eve (an event I originated in 2005 for the sake of an “office Christmas party” for our informal writer’s group), but we’ll get back to that soon enough. If you are interested in such, you can see my report on the 2019 event here, the 2018 event here, the 2017 event here, the 2016 event here, the 2015 event here, the 2013 event here, the 2012 event here (there have been at least a decade’s worth of further events, but apparently I made no reports on those, save for the 2007 event). But next year, right? Until then, here is a virtual event, posted as issue #30 of The Peter F. Yacht Club [see information on the prior issue here]. We are far more than halfway out of the dark, I’d wager.

Kimberly Quiogue Andrews : “Jesus in a Prom Gown”

Kimberly Quiogue Andrews is a poet and literary critic. She is the author of A Brief History of Fruit, winner of the Akron Prize for Poetry from the University of Akron Press, and BETWEEN, winner of the New Women’s Voices Chapbook Prize from Finishing Line Press. She teaches creative writing and American literature at the University of Ottawa, and you can find her on Twitter at @kqandrews.

Susan J. Atkinson : “Reading Palms,” “The Dining Room Poem by another Poet” and “Interpreting Rothko”

Susan J. Atkinson’s poems have won a number of awards, most recently first prize in the 2019 National Capital Writers Contest and chosen as a Notable Mention in the 2020 Nick Blatchford Occasional Verse. She has new work in Grain Magazine and The Queen’s Quarterly. Her first full-length collection, The Marta Poems was published by Silver Bow Publishing in 2020 and her chapbook The Birthday Party, The Mariachi Player and The Tourist came out in Spring 2021 with Catkin Press. Visit for more information.

Frances Boyle : “The whole tall world” and “Abbey”

Frances Boyle is the author of two poetry books, most recently This White Nest (2019). She has also written Tower, a Rapunzel-infused novella (2018), and Seeking Shade, a short story collection (2020) which was a first-place winner of the Miramichi Reader’s Very Best! Awards, and a finalist for the Danuta Gleed Award and the ReLit Award. Her writing has been selected for the Best Canadian Poetry series, nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net, and published throughout North America and internationally. Frances’s third book of poetry is forthcoming in fall 2022 with Frontenac House Press.

Jason Christie : “Slow death”

Jason Christie lives and writes in Ottawa. He is the author of Canada Post (Invisible), i-ROBOT (Edge/Tesseract), Unknown Actor (Insomniac), and Cursed Objects (Coach House). His most recent chapbooks are: Bridge and Burn (above / ground) and Heavy Metal Litany (Model press). He is looking for a home for a new manuscript of poetry he wrote with the help of several Python scripts.

Conyer Clayton : “Family Dinner” and “Intruder,” both from But the sun, and the ships, and the fish, and the waves (Spring 2022, A Feed Dog Book by Anvil Press).

Conyer Clayton is a writer, musician, editor, and gymnastics coach living on unceded Algonquin Anishinaabe land. Her debut collection, We Shed Our Skin Like Dynamite (Guernica Editions, 2020), won an Ottawa Book Award and was a Relit Award finalist. She's released 2 albums and many chapbooks; recently, Towers (Collusion Books, 2021) by VII, of which she is a member, and Sprawl (Collusion Books, 2020) written with Manahil Bandukwala, shortlisted for the bpNichol Award. Her second book, But the sun, and the ships, and the fish, and the waves (A Feed Dog Book, Anvil Press) is forthcoming Spring 2022.

Laurie Anne Fuhr : “applicable skills of the military brat #1” and “applicable skills of the military brat #2,” from night flying (Frontenac House 2018).

Laurie Anne Fuhr, ex-Ottawan, current Calgarian, is author of night flying (Frontenac House 2018), which was shortlisted for the Robert Kroetsch Award for Innovative Poetry 2016 in ms form. Fuhr had work in several anthologies in 2021, including Uncommon Grounds: poems by the Espresso Poetry Collective (epcpress 2021); Wonder/Shift 40th Anniversary Anthology (AWCS Press 2021); and The Stroll of Poets Anthology (2021), and had a poem on a tall can with Blindman Brewing's Session Stories series (ed. Jason Lee Norman). Her poem mixed media was shortlisted in the Freefall Magazine poetry contest 2020 (Judge Gary Barwin). Her work has been published in an above/ground chapbook and in many periodicals like This Magazine, Journal of Literature and Aesthetics (India), Bywords, and Prairie Journal. Fuhr is a poetry instructor with; its poetry workshops are now open to all on Zoom.

natalie hanna : “keep moving / keep sleeping” and “to learn of making”

natalie hanna is a queer, disabled, feminist, Middle Eastern, Ottawa-born lawyer. She runs battleaxe press, and has authored thirteen chapbooks, including three titles with above/ground press, Baseline Press (2020), and collaboratively with Liam Burke, machine dreams, from Collusion Books (2021). She is working on her first full length poetry collection. Her poetry, interviews, and commentary have been published in Canada and the U.S. Learn more:

Robert Hogg : “The Poem that Starts in the Night”

Robert Hogg was born in Edmonton, Alberta, grew up in the Cariboo and Fraser Valley in British Columbia, and attended UBC during the early Sixties where he was associated with the Vancouver TISH poets, co-edited MOTION - a prose newsletter, and graduated with a BA in English and Creative Writing. His books include: The Connexions, Berkeley: Oyez, 1966; Standing Back, Toronto: Coach House, 1972; Of Light, Toronto: Coach House, 1978; Heat Lightning, Windsor: Black Moss, 1986; There Is No Falling, Toronto: ECW,1993; and as editor, An English Canadian Poetics, The Confederation Poets – Vol. 1, Vancouver: Talonbooks, 2009. He recently published several chapbooks: from LAMENTATIONS, Ottawa: above/ground, 2016; two Cariboo poems, Ranch Days – The McIntosh from hawk/weed press in Kemptville, ON; Ranch Days—for Ed Dorn from battleaxe press (Ottawa 2019); A Quiet Affair – Vancouver ’63 (Trainwreck, May 2021); and in August 2021 a chapbook titled From Each Forthcoming (above/ground). In December 2021, a chapbook will be released from Hogwallow Press, called The Red Menace, and another from Apt 9 Press in Ottawa, called Apothegms.

Margo LaPierre : “A Video of You, Laughing” (first published in Mineral Lit Mag), “Hysterosonogram” (forthcoming 2022 in Sable Books’ disability anthology The Ending Hasn’t Happened Yet) and “Air Show” (first published in Train Journal)

Margo LaPierre is a freelance editor and author of Washing Off the Raccoon Eyes (Guernica Editions, 2017). She serves as newsletter editor of Arc Poetry Magazine and is a member of poetry collective VII. She is the winner of the 2021 Room Poetry Contest and the 2020 subTerrain Lush Triumphant Award for Fiction and was shortlisted for the 2021 Fiddlehead Creative Nonfiction Contest. She is completing her MFA in Creative Writing at UBC. Find her on Twitter @margolapierre.

Gil McElroy is reading three new poems from his ongoing project, The Julian Days.

Gil McElroy is a poet currently living in Colborne, Ontario.

rob mclennan : “Autobiography of green,” “Coordinates” and “Burning the dead grass”

Born in Ottawa, Canada’s glorious capital city, rob mclennan currently lives in Ottawa, where he is home full-time with the two wee girls he shares with Christine McNair. The author of more than thirty trade books of poetry, fiction and non-fiction, his most recent poetry title, the book of smaller (University of Calgary Press, 2022), is now available for pre-order. In spring 2020, he won ‘best pandemic beard’ from Coach House Books via Twitter, of which he is extremely proud (and mentions constantly). He spent the 2007-8 academic year in Edmonton as writer-in-residence at the University of Alberta.

Christine McNair : “Déjà Entendu” and “Déjà vu”

Christine McNair has published two books of poetry with Bookhug – Conflict (2012) and Charm (2017). Her most recent manuscript is a hybrid non-fiction poetry manuscript focused on preeclampsia, illness, and disability. She works as a book doctor in Ottawa. Also – she recorded this last year for Canthius but it may have been lost in the ether, much like she was lost in the Christmas tree.

Pearl Pirie : “Daily you detail weather” & “time scales mountains” are from the tentatively titled, “Well-Behaved Thistle.” If you’re a potential publisher, ask for it by name.

Pearl Pirie’s fourth poetry collection is footlights (Radiant Press, 2020). rain’s small gestures (Apt 9 Press, fall 2021) is minimalist poems. Mudflaps for Short Dogs is out from Trainwreck Press (July 2021). Interact with her at Instagram or Patreon at Pearlpiriepoet.

Monty Reid : two poems from “Playground”

Monty Reid is a damaged Ottawa poet.

Stuart Ross : “A Stephen Crane Christmas,” “Sixty-Two” and “Razovsky On The Volga”

Stuart Ross is a writer, editor, and writing teacher, the author of 20 books of fiction, poetry, and essays, and countless chapbooks and ephemera. He received the 2019 Harbourfront Festival Prize and the 2021 James Tate Poetry Prize. Stuart’s work has been translated into Nynorsk, French, Spanish, Estonian, and Russian. His most recent book is 70 Kippers, written with his dearest friend, the late Ottawa poet Michael Dennis. Stuart’s hybrid poem/essay The Book Of Grief And Hamburgers, dedicated to Michael, comes out this spring from ECW Press. He lives in Cobourg, Ontario.

Renée Sarojini Saklikar : from the Perimeter sequence in Bramah and The Beggar Boy

Renée Sarojini Saklikar is a poet and lawyer who lives in Vancouver on the unceded traditional territories of the Coast Salish peoples. She is the author of four books, including the ground-breaking poetry book, children of air india, about the bombing of Air India Flight 182 which won the Canadian Authors Association Poetry Prize and is the co-author, with Dr. Mark Winston, of the poetry and essay collection, Listening to the Bees, winner of the 2019 Gold Medal Independent Publishers Book Award, Environment/Ecology. She is currently working on Book 2 of the THOT J BAP series, an epic fantasy in verse.

This poem is from the Perimeter sequence in my epic fantasy in verse, Bramah and The Beggar Boy (Nightwood Editions, 2021).

An early version of this poem, one of the first in my long poem series,, first appeared in a beautiful hand made chapbook by the late Marthe Reed, to whom I was introduced by rob mclennan at the Factory Reading Series in Ottawa.

Other poems from the sequence also appeared in Kathryn Mockler’s The Rusty Toque.

With gratitude for these, past and present, who support/supported long form poetry.

D.S. Stymeist : Big Ride: Passage 1” and “Tonic.”

D.S. Stymeist’s debut collection, The Bone Weir, was published by Frontenac in 2016 and was a finalist for the Canadian Author’s Association Award for Poetry. He continues to publish widely in both academic and literary magazines. Alongside fending off Crohn’s disease, he teaches creative writing and crime fiction at Carleton University. He’s the former president of VERSe Ottawa, which organizes VERSeFest, Ottawa’s international poetry festival.

On special assignment: Cameron Anstee, Stephen Brockwell, jwcurry, Anita Dolman, Amanda Earl, Lea Graham, Marilyn Irwin, Chris Johnson, Janice Tokar, Roland Prevost, Sandra Ridley and Chris Turnbull.

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

new from above/ground press: Microbial Soup Kiss, by Sean Braune and Émilie Dionne

Microbial Soup Kiss
Sean Braune and Émilie Dionne

dance—like strings or sifflets
our heads strike
twigs: i heard
within the hour, we’d be
standing further than
two metres apart
with masks sewn
like love between
our smiles, our hope,
our fingers in our eyes
piercing through

published in Ottawa by above/ground press
December 2021
a/g subscribers receive a complimentary copy

Sean Braune is the writer of the poetry book Dendrite Balconies (University of Calgary Press, 2019) and the philosophy book Language Parasites: Of Phorontology (Punctum Books, 2017). His first feature-length film, Nuptials, has just screened at the Cyprus International Film Festival (2021).

Émilie Dionne is a health researcher, sociologist, political theorist, writer and visual artist based in Quebec (Montreal & Quebec city). She’s been writing since she was 10, wrote three novels, five plays, many short stories and collections of poetry. Her writing has been published only once before, Secrètes Immortelles (1999), and her visual art is available online. She’s a runner, lover of animals and nature.

This is Braune’s fourth above/ground press chapbook after the vitamins of an alphabet (2016), The Cosmos (2018) and FACE PORTRAITS and AUTHOR COPS (2018).

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 rob_mclennan (at) or the PayPal button at

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

new from above/ground press: The 66,512, by Urië V-J

The 66,512
Urië V-J

I. The Sun

Memory is vainglory. It perceives the abysm locking arms, their eyes thefts before the bubble the earth has in the mirror. The molehill cathedral braided by long-spinners’ legs throughout the invisible, then cut down to their stars, they dross a ghost through the walls of a little blue rain-cloud. This belief can never be broken down to the atomi members of the self, memory, nor can the personated memory translate the ghastly belief staring back at them, when your backs are turned. The fact decays, dashed to pieces and scattered either way beyond the screen. Those huge caves open into my lips and lose children to close when I forget them. What has happened is no memory. My memory does not know, so I sit, and attempt to express that, non-come, without being.

O’erhead, below where we were sitting, in a long room rounded at the corners, not so deep I canst perceive the portal we all, sweet friends, open into. Small performances below dream up work for characters copied from the star figures painted along the walls. They are unrecognizable to us, who, myself excepted, have no memory, though it is perhaps the walls who should remember us. One curiosity is that, of whatever matter we composed this mural, the history of the figures composed by stars, we have no more of that material. I wonder at times if that history could be finished. Or if anything could be more perfect.

What could this mean, in heaven? If we are some part of the earth that carried over, then are these paintings from her former life? Could the same be said, then, of they who performs beneath? We have seen no stars that resemble them, so they may be false, a performance, a memory. No person can keep a memory. It is alive. Because I have a memory, I have never been on stage.

I need to start a little before my memory. But Paradise has never been denied darkness.

published in Ottawa by above/ground press
December 2021
a/g subscribers receive a complimentary copy

Urië V-J
– Moravian-Canadian essayist, poet, speculative geographer and hermetic technician – has lived in the vicinity of White Rock, BC since the late 2020s. They are co-founders of the Nelson Push for Chemical Goverment (Surveyor). A monograph of correspondence with Tzixen Planchette is being prepared by Govinda Craig for the Free University of the Half-Moon Bay beginning in 2015.

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 rob_mclennan (at) or the PayPal button at

Sunday, December 19, 2021

Ryan C reviews two Billy Mavreas titles: B V A (2019) and drop (2020)

Billy Mavreas recently discovered two reviews of his above/ground press chapbooks we weren't previously aware of, as "Ryan C." reviewed B V A (2019) over at his blog here, and drop (2020) over at his blog here. Thanks so much! Especially given that these are the first reviews of either, we are even that much more grateful. And did you hear that Mavreas has a full-length forthcoming from Conundrum Press? That's pretty cool.

Thursday, December 16, 2021

the first review of Whatever Feels Like Home (2021) by Susan Rukeyser

The first review of Susan Rukeyser's Whatever Feels Like Home (2021) is now online at the Cholla Needles Arts & Literary Library website. Thanks so much! You can read the full review here. As the reviewer writes:
I love the poetry Susan includes in her fascinating flash fiction. For example, this line about a goldfish: “His translucent fins fanned like the scarves of an old burlesque dancer still going through the motions.”

These ten stories take us deep into the lives of the characters, and not the normal fiction characters of politics and fame. Susan instead focuses on our friends and neighbors, and manages to reach in and expose my own foibles to myself. My gut tells me that you too will find yourself in at least one of these stories, and members of your family in other stories, and for sure your next-door neighbor. And, those characters whose stories are unique and new to you will become life-long friends due to Susan’s love of her characters. I know Hank now has a soft spot in my heart, and I wish him a long life with good friends.

Susan’s descriptions of events are precise and vivid: “And wasn’t this what you did, when you lost a guy who probably wasn’t your forever guy but what if he WAS? You go crazy. You rage. You weep. You break into his trailer and sit on his couch with a knife across your lap, so he will shit himself when he opens the door after a long shift, sore and beat, and all he wants in life is a shower and to be left alone.” Another story paints a colorful picture of living together full-time, “Resentment, old as this marriage, sticks to doorknobs and window sills. It gums up the corners.”

I marvel at how Susan seemingly effortlessly embeds seventeen syllable micropoems into her stories. I just stare in wonder at and savor the skill, and admire the work that goes into this precision. From two different stories: “Mrs. Anderson stretched as birds chittered, a brook sputtered over stones.” And “You were the girl who could never leave. How did they know you slept through it?” With this careful, pristine writing throughout, I highly recommend this book for your reading pleasure. The stories I have seen previously live just as strong with re-reading, and I know this will be a small book I’ll return to with pleasure.

Tuesday, December 14, 2021

new from above/ground press: Fire and Flood: Enacting Rehearsal as Performance, by Sarah Rosenthal

Fire and Flood: Enacting Rehearsal as Performance
Sarah Rosenthal

Author’s Note

This essay is from the collection One Thing Follows Another: Engaging the Art of Simone Forti and Yvonne Rainer, a collaboration with poet Valerie Witte. In this project, we explore the work of dancer-choreographers Yvonne Rainer and Simone Forti—both at various inflection points throughout their careers and in this particular moment. Through a combination of chance operations and intentional artistic choices that push us to unexpected places, and via innovative forms and techniques—including collage, erasure, and our own inventions—we deconstruct the essay form to examine what we as poets, each with our own highly charged relationships to dance, can contribute to the conversation about these pivotal figures in postmodern art.

I am grateful to the many people and organizations who have supported and continue to support this project. I look forward to acknowledging them all in the book.

published in Ottawa by above/ground press
as the fourteenth title in above/ground’s prose/naut imprint
December 2021
a/g subscribers receive a complimentary copy

Cover art: Amy Fung-yi Lee

Sarah Rosenthal is the author of Estelle Meaning Star (Chax, forthcoming), The Grass Is Greener When the Sun Is Yellow (The Operating System, 2019; collaboration with Valerie Witte), Lizard (Chax, 2016), Manhatten (Spuyten Duyvil, 2009), and several chapbooks. She edited A Community Writing Itself: Conversations with Vanguard Poets of the Bay Area (Dalkey Archive, 2010). Her short film We Agree on the Sun has received numerous accolades on the film festival circuit, including Best Experimental Short at the 2021 Berlin Independent Film Festival. She is the recipient of the Leo Litwak Fiction Award, a Creative Capacity Innovation Grant, a San Francisco Education Fund Grant, and writing residencies at Cel del Nord, This Will Take Time, Hambidge, Vermont Studio Center, Soul Mountain, Ragdale, and New York Mills. She lives in San Francisco where she manages projects for the Center for the Collaborative Classroom, works as a Life & Professional Coach, and serves on the California Book Awards poetry jury. More at

This is Rosenthal’s second above/ground press title, after Estelle Meaning Star (2014).

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 rob_mclennan (at) or the PayPal button at

Friday, December 10, 2021

new from above/ground press: So/I, by Andy Weaver

Andy Weaver

shipwrecked alone
by language
on an unknown
shore, gasping
for breath,
bereft, cleaved,
and cleft,
the charts
and logbooks
floating away
in the sea foam,
I am left merely
—but what
is so “mere”
when a word
is a tireless
of the cultural
of the possible,
its weight,
changing nothing
than content
and meaning,
the way
a single page
might recall
with a dazzling
the two minutes
one morning
centuries ago

published in Ottawa by above/ground press
December 2021
a/g subscribers receive a complimentary copy

Andy Weaver
has been called, by his favourite small press publisher, the most glorious of bastards. Both parties consider this a compliment.

This is Weaver’s fourth above/ground press chapbook after Three Ghazals to the constellation Corvus (The Crow) (2001), Other Work for your Hands (2004) and Concatenations (2014).

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 rob_mclennan (at) or the PayPal button at

Tuesday, December 7, 2021

new from above/ground press: oh the iffy night, by Simon Brown

oh the iffy night
Simon Brown


within the night
another night
and in that night
another night still
will it ever stop
flowers, bombs, fever unbroken
like juice
from any moon
or a lamb made of sticky dust
I dig my way out
I dig so slow

published in Ottawa by above/ground press
December 2021
a/g subscribers receive a complimentary copy

Simon Brown
(he/they) is a self-taught and late-blooming poet and translator from rural southwestern New Brunswick (Peskotomuhkati traditional territory) now based in the Quebec City area (Wendat and Abenaki traditional territory). His texts have been presented in books, interdisciplinary artworks, collaborative performances, and via platforms such as Lemon Hound, Estuaire, Mœbius, Vallum, Poetry Is Dead, Watts, and filling Station. This is his second English-language chapbook, after this mud, a word (Frog Hollow Press, 2019).

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 rob_mclennan (at) or the PayPal button at

Friday, December 3, 2021

new from above/ground press: Yesterday’s Tigers, by Mayan Godmaire

Yesterday’s Tigers
Mayan Godmaire

    I want to confess to his open eyes. I lay on his chest, on his single bed. He is a benevolent nothing, comme un moine. He listens without pressing. He does without doing. I lay with my deliberations and thought-circles, my loops, my over-analysises pinned down, swirling, and building at the dam in my throat. Nate's steady open gaze.
    I'm-ashamed-of-the-person-I-give-you-it's-a-husk-of-myself. But I don't say that; you wouldn't have understood 'husk'.
    "Je reconnais en moi les gestes obséquieux et réticents, les brusques scrupules d'une soul in hiding. Shame. It's me and it's not me." A husk of myself.
    I rest my chin on the give of his belly. We take a walk through his woods later. A plot of falling trees, of mushrooms and tentative greens. This is our early spring, the brown silence.
    Our palms sweat together.

published in Ottawa by above/ground press
December 2021
a/g subscribers receive a complimentary copy

Mayan Godmaire
has always been enchanted. By words, by spells, and by the uniqueness of life. They see words as a subtle art and crafts them to create distinctive and subtle atmospheres. They have participated in several of Dawson College’s publications as an editor. Their first published story “And Church Lay Silent” can be found in Dawson’s Creations Journal. Mayan began writing fantasy stories when they were eleven and the creative output has never ceased. If they could shape the world to their will, the earth would be a cross between Pirates of the Carribean and Lord of the Rings.

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 rob_mclennan (at) or the PayPal button at

Thursday, December 2, 2021

Bill Neumire reviews Gary Barwin and rob mclennan's collaborative SOME LEAVES (2020)

Bill Neumire was good enough to provide a first review of Gary Barwin and rob mclennan's collaborative SOME LEAVES (2020) over at Vallum magazine. Thanks so much! See his original review here. As he writes:

In a collection with a title that rings Whitmanian, seasoned collaborators with over 50 books published between them, rob mclennan and Gary Barwin offer five brief pages of poetry that come closer to feeling very Bradburian, examining the the collision of nature and the technology of language. Though the collection is co-authored, there’s no clear indication how the authoring is split. This defensively layered distance provides shade from nature’s “extraordinary example” which can only be recorded, “screen-captured,” and played back on a loop while itself remaining wholly separate and intact. The poems alternate pages with images of a bird in varying poses whose head is covered by a blank dialogue bubble. So, what do the birds say in their silence? “Honestly, say the birds. You humans. It’s not about language.” The voice of the speaker/s is aloofly clinical: “One wishes not to speak of birds, their extraordinary example. / One takes out a photocopy of a bird.” This evasive voice remains throughout the book’s 10 brief sections (the sections range from 2 to 9 lines each), maneuvering to explain that “by ‘one’ one means ‘we’ or ‘forests’ or ‘birds.’” Humans often possess an anxiety-driven need to fill silence with words, to enter a space and begin claiming. The chapbook opens, “One takes one’s computer into the woods and types ‘bird.’” This exploration of reality versus reproduction is at the heart of these poems: “The yes of the mystery.” It reads like an investigation: “There’s a river. What does it mean, this river? / There’s a sentence. That’s what it means, this curve.” And the investigation is not without its findings, as the speaker states, “Listening is always beginning again.” An atomized mingling of time and state of being occurs, as “A tree has a premonition of being cut into ladders; a leaf // in the folds of a hundred books.” There is nature in its essence, and there is what writers and artists make of nature, and in Some Leaves Barwin and mclennan “make the distance philosophical.” The collection (really a single, flowing poem) is exactly that: a voice philosophizing on what it means to use artifice to convey nature. There is one final image that is not a bird, but instead a dialogue bubble containing only three ellipses points surrounded by two leaves—perhaps indicating the abandoning of language in the face of nature. In the end, mclennan and Barwin seek no epic project, but rather an ironic self-minimalizing, an attempt to ask how valuable language is, how much we fetishize it when, in the end, “A tree is always already music.”

Thursday, November 18, 2021

Zoe Tuck reviews Monica Mody's Ordinary Annals (2021)

Zoe Tuck was good enough to review Monica Mody's Ordinary Annals (2021) over at their blog. Thanks so much! This follows the lovely paragraph Lantern Review offered, as well, earlier this year. See Tuck's original post here. As they write:
It has become a commonplace to say that we are living in extraordinary times, although as Monica Mody writes in her new chapbook Ordinary Annals, “Everything was being shredded long before we noticed.” And yet, Mody’s title is unassuming. Ordinary: run-of-the-mill, quotidian—right? Still, the ordinary world, and her revolutions, are a marvel: “Every season that turns brings us back / to pitted dark, moon folding into sun.” Poets have a responsibility to record the revolutions of the world, hence annals.

The extra/ordinariness of our times—that is to say, the admixture of the unprecedented and the cyclical—gives a spiral shape to Ordinary Annals. Mody reaches for the extraordinary but is still “entangled with the world, that place / I become / me, ordinary / shattering into we.” Grief and weariness lead her to lay her body down (I think here of the Nap Ministry), enabling her to “connect with tendril, still—,” drawing energy from the hurt and beautiful earth to be reborn.

Mody lovingly but firmly critiques the desire to erase the specificity of our griefs:

Now don’t say,

We’re all the same
& love is the answer.

What does it take to attend—
not flinch—at different

trajectories of suffering?
Can we honor healing

their immense particularity

and is that love

and elsewhere:

If through our gestures
we take away

another’s power
—enable colonization—

we fail
Earth & Waters.

She also critiques the impulse (imperative?) to ‘return to normal’ and repress our grief (since we can’t simply erase it) at the interlocking crises of our time.

Mody begins Ordinary Annals knocking into the glass walls of language: “I want to rise above my limitations.” What limitations? “I want to let bird shapes of words flock together into language that will / change skies.” Can language change skies? Mody writes elsewhere, “I’m just so sick & tired of being Poet” and in that moment it is because “losses stitch [her] tongue into clawed mouth” and another of the responsibilities of the poet is to sing the losses. I read into this not just despair for the losses themselves, but despair at not having been able to forestall them with the poet’s tool, language.

This desire to solve or resolve or memorialize in tension with another mode, that of, “rocking in this moment of undecidability, not becoming anything at all,” a formlessness that presents itself as a space of repose in between breaths or throbs.

Ordinary Annals is the work of a poet attuned to the entanglement of word and world, memory and moment, love and suffering. With her willingness to share her progress in language through “this time of grave despair,” Mody joins her elders in:

tell[ing] us of the many gates around the world that are opening
Gates opened by great white wings of love—of sorrow

Each gate points straight to our hearts
That place where broken

            realities are woven

She models her movement toward these gates for all of us ordinary would-be weavers “shattering into a we” and I’m grateful for it.

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

new from above/ground press: A Wolf Lake Chorus, by Phil Hall

A Wolf Lake Chorus
Phil Hall

A Wolf Lake Chorus is a dramatic voice-poem for poet, birds, & saw:
1 poet, 8 birds, & 1 musician bowing a saw.



A podium rigged with a microphone at centre stage.
Two high screens behind.

The poet & the musician walk onto the stage.

The poet goes to the podium.
The musician sits on a chair at the side of the stage.

The musician plays the saw.

        ("Stage Directions")


A Wolf Lake Chorus began as an invitation from Madhur Anand in 2015 to write a poem using only the words contained in one of her academic articles. The article chosen is mentioned in the poem.

Originally called The Overstory, it was performed in Guelph at Silence on Friday May 18, 2018 as part of an evening of performances in support of Wolf Lake. Also presenting were Madhur Anand and Gary Barwin.

The cast included David Lee on bass and Georgia Urban on musical saw, plus 8 volunteers who were the birds. I am grateful to everyone involved, especially the birds for their overlapping voices.

A video of the evening, with A Wolf Lake Chorus as the final act, may be viewed at:

published in Ottawa by above/ground press
November 2021
a/g subscribers receive a complimentary copy

Phil Hall's
most recent books are The Ogre (Trainwreck, 2021), Toward a Blacker Ardour (Beautiful Outlaw, 2021), and Niagara & Government (Pedlar, 2020).

This is Phil Hall’s fourth above/ground press chapbook, after Verulam (2009) and the collaborative Shikibu Shuffle (with Andrew Burke; 2012) and Alternative Girders (with Stuart Kinmond; 2018).

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 rob_mclennan (at) or the PayPal button at

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Cole Bisson reviews Nathanael O’Reilly's BLUE (2020) in Broken Pencil

Cole Bisson was good enough to provide the first review of Nathanael O’Reilly's BLUE (2020) over at Broken Pencil. Thanks so much! You can see the original review here.
Litzine, by Nathanael O’Reilly, 40 pgs, above/ground press,, $5

Ever wonder what the working-class white guy around the corner is thinking? You know, the one who has bumper stickers of Nirvana, screams that Trump is an idiot, and has teeth stained yellow from cigarettes? Surprisingly, he’s got an in-depth mental life, and he’s writing a book about it. Or perhaps that’s not a surprise.

Blue by Nathaniel O’Reilly is a tender song for male alienation and longing. O’Reilly has a vulnerable touch that fully flushes out the themes in each poem. He grapples with losing friends as he ages, the fear of becoming a father, and childhood memories that teach him something new every day.

The main drawback is that, for all of it’s loneliness, O’Reilly’s work sounds like many others, and comes off as wannabe edgy. Juvenile warbles like “I lay on the floor / listening to Nirvana / writing my first letter / to her” give the vibe of someone trying desperately to stand out from the crowd, and that inevitably falls flat. O’Reilly isn’t saying anything new or adding a different voice, and thus drowns himself out in a saturated market.

Granted, there are certain poems where he tackles issues with tenderness and altruism. In an ode to who I imagine is his child, he asks “Will you love learning / like your parents, will you / be athletic, artistic, scientific?” When ruminating about who his child might grow up to be, O’Reilly touches on real parental anxieties and demonstrates them. He presents wishful thinking and imagines himself walking hand-in-hand with his child for as long as possible.

It’s these touching moments that give Blue a sense of urgency. Contrasted with lines like “The orangutan reaches the peak of his climb, / surveys the scene where he defecated,” the vulnerability of a man comes off as authentic. You just wish there wasn’t a warped edge to this sensibility.

Monday, November 15, 2021

new from above/ground press: how to count to ten, by Kevin Varrone

how to count to ten
Kevin Varrone

the important thing about one :
it stands alone––
like a song
bird––its sound––

alone––can, sometimes, maybe-
almost, be enough––

causal yet caused by something, un-
moved & moving, one
is something beautifully done
whose doing
cannot ever be known.

there is nothing in the universe
more tenuous
than beautiful
more beautiful
than one
& the important thing
is that it stands tall, stands all
tender flag half-

published in Ottawa by above/ground press
November 2021
a/g subscribers receive a complimentary copy

Kevin Varrone
is the author of three full-length collections of poetry and numerous chapbooks. He lives outside Philadelphia and teaches at Temple University.

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 rob_mclennan (at) or the PayPal button at

Friday, November 12, 2021

new from above/ground press: Whatever Feels Like Home, by Susan Rukeyser

Whatever Feels Like Home
Susan Rukeyser

Yes, You Can Eat Your Goldfish


            Yes, you can eat your darling goldfish. He is most likely a form of ornamental carp, and he will taste as you expect: muddy and full of bones.

            You can eat all your darlings, once you kill them. Although why you killed Prince Harry the goldfish I cannot understand. Was it all the staring, his bulging eyes? Was it his flashy orange scales, so out of place in your dark, dusty cabin full of your ancestors’ ghosts? Or was it that his beauty faded by the day, in your care, and you could not bear to watch it — how his scales grew dull and his swimming listless, until he mostly stayed put in the middle of the small, round, glass bowl that was his world since you brought him home from that Memorial Day carnival? His translucent fins fanned like the scarves of an old burlesque dancer still going through the motions.

            You sure looked like you wanted him when you paid $3.00, six times in a row, tossing rings onto a pole. Prince Harry watched you from the table of glass goldfish bowls and saw how you labored for him, how you fought against your own shortcomings to win him as a prize. But now it’s August, and you should have set him up with a proper tank by now, some plastic plants and aquarium gravel, at least.

            Prince Harry was an $18.00 goldfish, which makes him as expensive as any other freshwater fish on the menu at an upscale seafood place. But you should know that the diet you fed him of dehydrated fish flakes won’t please your palate nor your conscience. (Maybe you could have treated him better?)

            What’s done is done, I get it. I just hope you killed him with kindness.

            Because, you know, Prince Harry the goldfish was miserable in that little glass bowl. He was never going to become the best fish he could be, trapped in there. In the wild — if you had released him, an invasive species — he could have grown beyond your expectations. (Seriously, he could’ve grown to be a foot long!) But at what cost to the other fish in that lake that butts up to your cabin? Prince Harry would crowd out the ones that belong there.

            Your darlings can be eaten, and they should be, if they fail to thrive. If you fail them.           

            But Prince Harry the goldfish will leave a bad taste in your mouth. He watched you toss all those rings at the carnival. For him. He thought you loved him. He thought he was home.

published in Ottawa by above/ground press
as the thirteenth title in above/ground’s prose/naut imprint
November 2021
a/g subscribers receive a complimentary copy

Susan Rukeyser
no longer believes in polite silence. Her debut novel, Not On Fire, Only Dying (Twisted Road Publications), was an SPD Fiction Bestseller. She just completed a new novel. Her short fiction, creative nonfiction, and multimedia work appear in numerous places, online and in print. Susan founded World Split Open Press to publish select titles including Feckless Cunt: A Feminist Anthology. She hosts the feminist, queer, and otherwise radical Desert Split Open Mic. In 2017, she moved home to Joshua Tree, California, although she hails from Connecticut.   

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 rob_mclennan (at) or the PayPal button at