Friday, January 21, 2022

new from above/ground press: Autobiography, by rob mclennan

rob mclennan

Autobiography of green


Each poem, at a particular time. A line of versets,
iambic feet. The children        , dither: compass

the backyard. Their summer playhouse, builds.

They wait, they wait.

Their perpendicular step.


To speak of origins: the homestead,

iambic clay, the creek’s

interminable motion. Striating fields, the fallow. Ice age
carving smith out of the ground.

Fluted points: such tenuous association. A drop
of glacial lakes.


Precambrian shield. The first impulse, is
to sit. My         morning desk, at first light,

coffee. Too wide, to reach silence,

speechless reserve. If there     remain gods
to smite, to smother. How much might

that cost me? Where

my children patter, stray. Such danger, as far
as they might run.


Parenting: helicopter, helicopter,

submarine. This glacial, rain. In order to write,

I write             this line

of thermal bridge.

published in Ottawa by above/ground press
January 2022
a/g subscribers receive a complimentary copy

cover artwork: Rose McLennan, summer 2021

Notes: Autobiography is excerpted from the in-progress manuscript “the book of sentences,” a thread that continues back into the as-yet-unpublished “Book of Magazine Verse” and further, into the book of smaller (University of Calgary Press, spring 2022). The poem “Burning the dead grass” folds in a line or two of Monty Reid’s poem “Burning the Back Issues,” lifted from his flat side (Red Deer Press, 1998). “The Garden” is one of a trio of responses to equally-titled poems by Kimberly Quiogue Andrews, from her debut collection, A Brief History of Fruit (University of Akron Press, 2020), and is dedicated to her and Alex, and their summer 2021 relocation to Ottawa.

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, he won the John Newlove Poetry Award in 2010, the Council for the Arts in Ottawa Mid-Career Award in 2014, and was longlisted for the CBC Poetry Prize in 2012 and 2017. In March, 2016, he was inducted into the VERSe Ottawa Hall of Honour. His most recent poetry titles include A halt, which is empty (Mansfield Press, 2019), Life sentence, (Spuyten Duyvil, 2019) and the book of smaller (University of Calgary Press, 2022). An editor and publisher, he runs above/ground press, periodicities: a journal of poetry and poetics and Touch the Donkey. He is editor of my (small press) writing day, and an editor/managing editor of many gendered mothers. 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, and regularly posts reviews, essays, interviews and other notices at

This is mclennan’s sixty-fifth above/ground press chapbook, following the collaborative SOME LEAVES (with Gary Barwin; 2020), Twenty-one stories, (2020), Poems for Lunch Poems for SFU (2020), Somewhere in-between / cloud (2019), Study of a fox (2018), snow day (2018) and It’s still winter (2017).

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

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