Thursday, July 28, 2011

"poem" broadside #304: Future Bakery: Interim Report, by rob mclennan


Tumble awake, this morning. Start from fragments. A gauntlet. Urge others, speak slowly, more. Unity precedes. A cranial. Decline to leave names.


Regular harbour, weave. Brunswick House, girlfriend. Ease down like an astronaut. What brief integrity, dialed. Composure governs. I pull my soldiered hands, small fortunes.


Children, the frame. Agency of water, fresh and unremarkable, rare. Brace, with low chairs. The sun strikes everything, rattling plastic clouds. Who is this, really? Table this, divide.


Windspeck, taste of rain. Illusions in this distance, blue. Compulsive fingernails. Battered, cleared and crawled. Hotel concordance, congress. In passing, spark tongues. Suppress. These rooms are legion.


Mechanical lineage. By the way, no longer. Sorry flightless birds. Submit is not the word. The right lane ends. All these coloured pencils. A shelf-life. Blueprint grit. She worries: where we cease to be.


A corkscrew, distance. Impatient, leaf. Sweet fragrance. Hotel, sustains. Time changes colour. Coffee cools, and something moves. Synopsis: boundaries. Hips and dashed integrity. Relieved, we plummet.

Future Bakery: Interim Report
by rob mclennan
Produced for small press fairs Toronto + Ottawa, June 2011
above/ground press broadside #304

Born in Ottawa, rob mclennan currently lives in Ottawa. He is the author of nearly two dozen trade publications in multiple countries, including the poetry collections Glengarry (Talonbooks, 2011), kate street (Moira, 2011) and 52 flowers (or, a perth edge) – essay on Phil Hall – (Obvious Epiphanies, 2010) and a second novel, missing persons (The Mercury Press, 2009). He is currently working to complete a third novel, various short stories, and a non-fiction project concerning grieving, loss and family archives, tentatively titled “The Last Good Year.”

Friday, July 15, 2011

new from above/ground press: Robert Kroetsch’s Further to Our Conversation

Further to Our Conversation
by Robert Kroetsch

You May Not Know the Sender

This message is from you.
It says: Please do not open.

published in Ottawa by above/ground press
a/g subscribers receive a complimentary copy
write for submission/subscription info, c/o 858 Somerset
Street West, main floor, Ottawa ON K1R 6R7,
or check out

To order, send cheques (add $1 for postage; outside Canada, add $2 & in US $) to: rob mclennan, 858 Somerset Street West, main floor, Ottawa Ontario Canada K1R 6R7. (for paypal options, drop $5 on, & email me yr address at

Renowned poet, novelist, essayist and teacher, Robert Kroetsch (1927-2011) [see my obit/tribute for him here] was one of Canada’s most accomplished authors. With a career spanning well over 40 years, Kroetsch received numerous honours, including the prestigious Governor General’s Literary Award for his book The Studhorse Man, and penned 9 internationally acclaimed novels, 14 books of poetry, and 5 books of non-fiction, essays, and exploration.

Celebrated as a leading creator of contemporary Canadian literature, his writing, teaching, and critical vision helped shape Canadian literature and culture. His works have been translated, published, and studied extensively worldwide, and he gave readings in countries as various as China, Japan, Finland, Italy, and Australia. Kroetsch taught and mentored countless writers throughout the world. A Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, he was short-listed for the Governor General’s Literary Award in 2000 for The Hornbooks of Rita K.

A Distinguished Alumnus of the University of Alberta, his most recent award was the Manitoba Arts Council Arts Award of Distinction.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

“poem” broadside #302: Morrisburg Ontario, by Michael Blouin

a lot of what gets said isn’t true

some things become more true over time

this place grew me

been lying on this bathroom floor long enough

to speculate that the intricacies of the tile work are beyond standard motel applications

the word byzantine might come into play

was it usual for this particular motel? did the tile layer have a momentary vision and set aside the wrinkled paper plan? run back and forth to the pickup or the store? get fired for it at the end but happy with an emptied head finally and dreams of a future beyond mere tilery and motel splendour? this is what I end up hoping.

that the man spent the rest of his life fabricating elaborate mosaics living on chocolate and water and feeling things more deeply than was strictly good for him

after dusk I wander into the tree line behind the soft vinyl sided building slowly driven by something I do not know fingers lightly brushing the rough tree edges

my neck becomes sore from looking up

no stars.

Morrisburg Ontario
by Michael Blouin
Produced for a reading at the Dusty Owl Reading Series
June 12, 2011
above/ground press broadside #302

Michael Blouin’s Chase and Haven (Coach House) won the Re Lit Award for Best Novel in 2009. His current Wore Down Trust (Pedlar Press) is garnering national attention. This new work is from a manuscript in progress.

Monday, July 11, 2011

“poem” broadside #305: January 9: Before Kroetsch’s visit to my meteorology class, by Nicole Markotić

thank you for boosting precipitation in Alberta. I confess I have always endeavoured to write the weather into line-breaks, wind speeds as enjambment, cirrus as infernal semi-colon, today’s high as the exact moment I read The Snowbird Poems aloud and hear you perusing Jack Spicer. The space between breaks a mutual breathing.

You begin me beginning. The Chinook stretches and reaches and pulls my exhalation across the prairies. Louis and I passed beneath Manitoba last week, when we took a cross-country detour to visit Lorine Niedecker’s birthplace and home town. We started in Windsor, drove to Chicago, then through Wisconsin, up towards Saskatchewan, into Moose Jaw, and on to Alberta. At the wheel, I quoted from Alberta, citing driving records and crocus alerts and overly coddled spring gardens. I craved myself back into the prairies, your prairies, back into provinces where Schmier and the rules that don’t make logical sense, make sense.

You remind me, when you repeat “diadem” back to me, that ancient Greek does not accommodate the word blue. How to crown the poem without a pure lambent sky? Lorine Faith Niedecker lived in a small hut by the Rock River, her mother’s breath supplying the room’s temperature, and wrote, “don’t be afraid / to pour wine over cabbage.” She is buried in the same grave as her parents, her husband’s headstone a footnote beside them. On the family stone, “Neidecker” posthumously insists on e-before-I: direction is important in weathered stones.

What is it about the grave, you ask, that institutes plot? I can only answer with Picasso blues and wavering humidity, with the idea of horizon flames on a crown of winter, and with snowflakes sprinkling over your head in the dead heat of a Calgary January. You lose yourself in disproportionate narrative, on purpose. And we smectite readers follow, determined to unbury the plot, unspell surnames, unpave the TransCanada, and unwrite the inclement page.

In between morning rain and afternoon hail, you noticed what I forget: pronunciation matters. And the invention of the telephone did change how we write.

January 9: Before Kroetsch’s visit to my meteorology class
by Nicole Markotić
July 2011
above/ground press broadside #305

Nicole Markotić is author of two poetry books, Connect the Dots and Minotaurs & Other Alphabets, the novella Yellow Pages, and the novel Scrapbook of My Years as a Zealot. She has edited a collection of poetry by Dennis Cooley, By Word of Mouth, has worked as a freelance editor, and has edited special issues for the literary journals Open Letter and Tessera. She was poetry editor for Red Deer Press for six years and has recently joined the NeWest literary board as one of its fiction editors. She publishes a chapbook poetry series, Wrinkle Press, which includes work by Louis Cabri, Robert Kroetsch, and Nikki Reimer. She lives in Windsor, and is working on a book of poems.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

“poem” broadside #301, Stolen Wind, by Hugh Thomas

by the window
rain in my arms
the wide boulevards
trailing blue smoke
his sad smile
waiting to speak
to death

this happened

we were alive
the tricky steps
and green panoramas
after lovemaking
orange streaks of light
i was never anything more
than the perpetual threat of rain
food and pleasure
the lake and the sky
little songs
that elude me
waiting for
the nightingales
we say goodbye
I am a tired, bleary-eyed man
in love with a beach
the scaffolding comes apart
the heat, the light, the green rice fields
a few clouds
slowly making for that further shore

Stolen Wind
above/ground press broadside #301

Hugh Thomas teaches mathematics at the University of New Brunswick in Fredericton. Heart badly buried by five shovels, a chapbook of his poetry, was recently published by Paper Kite Press. “Stolen wind” is composed of words and phrases from the chapbook Green Wind (above/ground press, 2010) by Ken Norris.

Friday, July 8, 2011

“poem” broadside #303: “to fret thy soul with crosses and with cares,” by Christine McNair

interspliced – my fingers lick
dashboard drip syrup lose venue

slip diagonal beneath
stringed instruments

soft sand sucks toes
black bays my hips
tilt to the wash of it

shoe blunt with beach
my perpetual chafe of


fae folk require raw cherries
devilish red sticky

shoulder span cool
stone sweet there’s
no ocean where there’s
no ocean no ocean
my tongue coasts

beloved bellatrix
beautiful belladonna
flash fictions

my heart’s root hem lonely
sweet murmur

to fret thy soul with crosses and with cares”
by Christine McNair
Produced for small press fairs Toronto + Ottawa, June 2011
above/ground press broadside #303

Christine McNair’s work has appeared in The Antigonish Review, Prairie Fire,, CV2, the Bywords Quarterly Journal, Descant, Arc, and a few other places. She is one of the hosts of CKCU's Literary Landscapes and works as a book doctor in Ottawa.