Friday, September 27, 2013

new from above/ground press: Rituals, by Rae Armantrout

Rae Armantrout



In this now ancient ritual
a succession of young women

are saucy,

which is to say they name
common objects and relations

as if they had mastered them
but shouldn’t.

Each receives false approbation.


As Xmas sells winter
to its prisoners.

As warmth
feels like love;

and love is warmth
only more capricious.

Fingers uncurl.

Organs expand
and rise

toward a surface
that must never

be broken.
published in Ottawa by above/ground press
September 2013
a/g subscribers receive a complimentary copy

Just Saying, Rae Armantrout’s most recent book of poems, was published by Wesleyan University Press in 2013. Versed (Wesleyan, 2009) received the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award. It was also a finalist for the National Book Award. Next Life (Wesleyan, 2007) was chosen as one of the 100 Notable Books of 2007 by The New York Times. Other recent books include Money Shot (Wesleyan, 2011), Collected Prose (Singing Horse, 2007), Up to Speed (Wesleyan, 2004), The Pretext (Green Integer, 2001), and Veil: New and Selected Poems (Wesleyan University Press, 2001). Her poems have been included in anthologies such as The Best of the Best American Poetry: 1988-2012 (2013), The Norton Anthology of Postmodern American Poetry (2013), The Open Door: 100 Poems, 100 Years of Poetry Magazine (Chicago, 2012), American Hybrid (Norton, 2009), American Women Poets in the 21 Century: Where Language Meets the Lyric Traditionist (Wesleyan, 2002), The Oxford Book of American Poetry (Oxford, 2006) and The Best American Poetry of 1988, 2001, 2002, 2004, 2007, 2008, 2011 and 2012. Armantrout received an award in poetry from the Foundation for Contemporary Arts in 2007 and a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2008. She is Professor of Poetry and Poetics at the University of California, San Diego. Writing in Poetry magazine, Ange Mlinko has said, “I would trade the bulk of contemporary anecdotal free verse for more incisive, chilling poetry like Armantrout’s.”

This is Armantrout’s second above/ground press publication, after the chapbook Custom (2012).

[Rae Armantrout reads in Ottawa on October 3, 2013 with Ron Silliman, as part of the A B Series]

To order, send cheques (add $1 for postage; outside Canada, add $2) to: rob mclennan, 2423 Alta Vista Drive, Ottawa ON K1H 7M9 [NEW ADDRESS!] or paypal at

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The Factory Reading Series presents: a VERSeFest fundraiser; lectures/talks by Earl, Hancock + O'Meara

The Factory Reading Series presents:

A VERSeFest Fundraiser : with lectures/talks on writing by

Amanda Earl (Ottawa)
Brecken Hancock (Ottawa)
+ David O'Meara (Ottawa)
as a fundraiser for Ottawa’s fourth annual VERSeFest Poetry Festival, March 2014

lovingly hosted by rob mclennan
Thursday, November 21, 2013
8$ door cover
doors 7pm; reading 7:30pm
Raw Sugar Cafe, 692 Somerset St W  Ottawa, ON

Amanda Earl is a poet, publisher and pornographer. She's the editor of & the fallen angel of AngelHousePress. In 2012/2013 her poetry has appeared locally in the Peter F. Yacht Club, & In/Words Magazine (as well as three chapbooks with above/ground press) & in literary magazines in Windsor, Calgary, Toronto, the UK, France, the USA and Australia. For more info, please visit or connect with Amanda on Twitter @KikiFolle.

Brecken Hancock’s [pictured] poetry, essays, interviews, and reviews have appeared in Riddle Fence, Event, CV2, Grain, and Studies in Canadian Literature. She is Reviews Editor for Arc Poetry Magazine and Interviews Editor for Canadian Women in the Literary Arts. The Art of Plumbing, her most recent chapbook, is out with above/ground press and her first full-length manuscript of poems, Broom Broom, is forthcoming with Coach House Books. She lives and walks dogs in Ottawa.

David O'Meara lives in Ottawa, Ontario. He is the author of three collections of poetry, including most recently A Pretty Sight (Coach House Books, 2013), and a play, Disaster, nominated for four Rideau Awards. His poetry has been shortlisted for the Gerald Lampert Award, the ReLit Award, the Trillium Book Award, a National Magazine Award, and he has won the Archibald Lampman Award twice. He is the director of the Plan 99 Reading Series, Artistic Director of VERSeFest ( and was the Canadian judge for the 2012 Griffin Poetry Prize.

Most of the talks in this series subsequently appear online in seventeen seconds: a journal of poetry and poetics, including previous talks by Monty Reid, Marcus McCann, Barry McKinnon, Cameron Anstee, Pearl Pirie, Gil McElroy and Nicole Markotić.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

above/ground press (today!) at word on the street: toronto,

During our recent move I unearthed an absolute ton of above/ground press "poem" broadsheets, and decided they should be distributed! If you make your way to The League of Canadian Poets booth at this year's WOTS today in Toronto, be sure to pick one up! I've sent along copies of numerous broadsheets from over the past decade or so, including poems by Steven Heighton, Stuart Ross, Max Middle, Shawna McCabe, Fred Wah, Gregory Betts, Sarah Mangold, Nathaniel G. Moore, A.J. Levin, Kristina Drake, William Hawkins, Nathanael, Karen Clavelle, Peter Norman, Gwendolyn Guth and Gary Barwin, among others. Go pick up copies! And don't forget, 2014 subscriptions are now available!

Friday, September 20, 2013

"poem" broadside #321: The First Thing the Typewriter did was Provide Evidence of Itself, by Sarah Mangold

As hard as they tried they could not stop

paying attention— Her profile —Her

Radcliffe affiliation —Her mentors—Facts

enough are cited—At every intersection —

Push pins and seams—Worried machines

Invisible operators—Phenomena to repeated

tests —Party to the very generation of

authoritative text—When and how much

the head and fingers worked

The First Thing the Typewriter did was Provide Evidence of Itself
by Sarah Mangold
above/ground press broadside #321
Sarah Mangold lives near Seattle, Washington and is the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts 2013 Poetry Fellowship. She is the author of the forthcoming Electrical Theories of Femininity (Pavement Saw) and Household Mechanics (New Issues), selected for the New Issue Poetry Prize. Recent chapbooks include Parlor (above/ground press), Cupcake Royale (above/ground press, I Meant To Be Transparent (LRL e/editions), An Antennae Called the Body (Little Red Leaves Textile Editions).

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Mark Cochrane at Vancouver's Word on the Street, September 29, 2013

above/ground press author Mark Cochrane launches his chapbook Cat. (above/ground press, 2012) as part of the 2013 edition of Vancouver's Word on the Street at Liberty Square, Sunday, September 29th. He will be reading to open The Poetry Tent at 11:00am.

Other readers at The Poetry Tent throughout the day include Kim Minkus, Jen Currin, Christine Leclerc, George Stanley, Peter Culley and Brad Cran.

Copies of Cochrane's Cat. are still available, here.

For more information on Vancouver's Word on the Street festival, check out

Monday, September 16, 2013

Amanda Earl features at The Dusty Owl Reading Series, Ottawa: Sunday, September 22, 2013

Ottawa writer, small press publisher and above/ground press author Amanda Earl does her final reading of 2013 this Sunday afternoon at The Dusty Owl Reading Series, co-featuring alongside Ottawa fiction writer Craig Calhoun [see her post about such here]. With featured reader(s) and an open set, The Dusty Owl Reading Series is held at Mugshots Bar, 75 Nicholas Street, Ottawa and begins at 3pm.

above/ground press has been fortunate enough to produce three of Amanda Earl's poetry chapbooks -- E l e a n o r (2007), The Sad Phoenician's Other Woman (2008) and Sex First & Then A Sandwich (2012) -- all of which are still available.

As she writes:
Please join me & my illustrious compatriot, the darkly poetic/poetically dark fiction writer Craig Calhoun for our featured readings this Sunday:

Dusty Owl Reading Series
Mugshots Bar, 75 Nicholas Street
Sunday, September 22, 3pm

Craig says he's going to read us stories of murder & fire. Also he reports that there is a skeleton in the Mugshots Courtyard.

I'll be reading mostly new un-related soundy poems featuring the Furious Girl, the World-Owes-Him-A-Living Guy, Daphne-the Dame of the Dolphin, skullduggery, jiggery pockery, hermit crabs, King Arthur, the yellow brick road, Imogen, Sir Ender of the Liquor Ardour, hounderifics, clam ditties, Bro Diddley, Madam Bovary, stodgy otters, diphthongs &  more disreputable characters…

I hope to see you there.

For those of you who like doing such things, here is the FaceBook event to sign up to.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

The Factory Reading Series pre-small press book fair reading, October 11, 2013: Douglas, Bebenek, Manner, Mihok + Hoag,

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

The Factory Reading Series
pre-small press book fair reading

Rhonda Douglas (Ottawa)
Jessica Bebenek (Toronto)
Mark Jordan Manner (Toronto)
Brian Mihok (Buffalo)
+ Jeannie Hoag (Buffalo)
lovingly hosted by rob mclennan
Friday, October 11, 2013;
doors 7pm; reading 7:30pm
The Carleton Tavern,
223 Armstrong Street (at Parkdale; upstairs)

Rhonda Douglas
[pictured] is originally from Newfoundland but has lived in Ottawa with her daughter Emma since time out-of-Memorial. She is the author of Some Days I Think I Know Things: The Cassandra Poems. Her poetry has won awards in the Newfoundland and Labrador Arts and Letters Competition, the Far Horizons award from The Malahat Review and the Diana Brebner prize from Arc Poetry Magazine. Her short fiction has been published in literary journals across Canada and won first prizes from both Room Magazine and Prairie Fire. Rhonda completed her MFA in Creative Writing from UBC in 2012. She spends too much time on airplanes.

Jessica Bebenek is a Toronto poet and writer with work appearing/forthcoming in magazines including Little Brother, The Rusty Toque, [PANK], and Steel Bananas magazines, and is a regular contributor for The Puritan magazine's blog, The Town Crier. She is the founder of the micro-press Loose Ends Press, which had its first official launch this September. She lives downtown with two pet rats and a prose writer.

Mark Jordan Manner’s work is appearing/forthcoming in Grain, EVENT, Prairie Fire, Ricepaper Magazine, Word Riot, and Paper Darts. He lives in Toronto.

Brian Mihok's work has appeared in Hobart, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, American Short Fiction, and elsewhere. His novel The Quantum Manual of Style was published by Aqueous Books in March 2013. He is an associate editor for sunnyoutside press and also edits matchbook a journal of indeterminate prose.

Jeannie Hoag was born in Wisconsin and lives in Buffalo, New York. Her work has appeared in The Blue Letter, GlitterPony, NOO Journal, and notnostrums.  Her chapbook New Age of Ferociousness was published by Agnes Fox Press, and Informal Invitation to a Traveler, a collaborative book with Kyle McCord, was published through Gold Wake Press. She is a librarian.

check here for information on the 19th anniversary edition of the semi-annual ottawa small press book fair, happening from noon to 5pm on Saturday, October 12, 2013 at the Jack Purcell Community Centre;

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Ryan Pratt reviews recent above/ground press titles by Rosmarie Waldrop + rob mclennan

Our pal Ryan Pratt was good enough to review Rosmarie Waldrop's Otherwise Smooth (2013) and rob mclennan's The creeks (2013) over at the ottawa poetry newsletter, providing an extremely worthy second review for both chapbooks. Thanks, Ryan! See the original review here.

Monday, September 9, 2013

above/ground press: 2014 subscriptions now available! (and new address!

The twentieth anniversary year might be winding down, but that doesn’t mean we over at above/ground press (really, it’s just me) are doing any less. 2013 has been one of the most productive publishing years the press has seen, producing (so far) twenty-three chapbooks, six broadsheets, and two issues of The Peter F Yacht Club! Forthcoming titles for 2013 include new works by Rae Armantrout and Hailey Higdon, and a 2014 title by Hugh Thomas (to launch at The Factory Reading Series in February), plus a whole ton of other material we haven’t even decided on yet.

2014 annual subscriptions are now available: $50 (in the United States, $50 US; $75 international) for everything above/ground press makes from now until the end of 2014.

Anyone who subscribes before November 1st will also receive the last above/ground press package of 2013, including those exciting new titles by Rae Armantrout and Hailey Higdon (plus whatever else the press happens to produce before the turn of the new year).

Why wait? You can either send a cheque (payable to rob mclennan) to 2423 Alta Vista Drive, Ottawa, Ontario K1H 7M9 [NEW ADDRESS!] or drop the money on the Paypal button at

And keep checking notices for The Factory Reading Series. There’s so much more to come.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Pearl Pirie reviews Waldrop, mclennan and the mclennan/McNair collaboration

Ottawa poet, blogger and above/ground press author Pearl Pirie was good enough to discuss three recent above/ground press titles over at her Pesbo Poetry Journal as part of her "95 Books for 2013, Part 11, 106-116" post: Rosmarie Waldrop, OTHERWISE SMOOTH (2013), rob mclennan, The creeks (2013) and rob mclennan and Christine McNair, The Laurentian Book of Movement (2013), all of which are still available. See the original post on Pirie's blog here. Thanks very much!
95 Books for 2013, Part 11, 106-116
Continuing the reading habit, mostly poetry, a little memoir/biography.

106. Otherwise Smooth by Rosemary Waldrop (above/ground, 2013)

I’ve long said for every book published, forget the blurb or synopsis. The cover, fine, price, useful but give me even two lines from the work and I’ll know from it than all that. That tells me more of angle, subject, control of language, freshness, density, style and match to my needs and taste than secondary sources. In poem 8 she started, 
Without you to say you to. Without you saying to me. Words don’t rise to the roof of the mouth. The rose is obsolete. The color of your eyes subtracted from the air. Fabric undone.
This isn’t going to be a lineated anecdote. Not the usual sentence structure. Maybe the usual I miss the generic object-you but still, there’s not the sentimental indulgence that such subjects are apt to become. The choice of how it is expressed is fresh.

In poem 5 she says, “I say “I” and thereby appropriate the entire language.” Like that interconnectedness. We see a conflict when both sides of a war claim the same god on their side but each person says I and means someone else. Funny universities we can parse. It reminds me of the prosody prof who described pronouns as professional nouns. They don’t need the spotlight. They will play as a band for whatever Proper Name act comes to town.

108. The Creeks by rob mclennan (above/ground, 2013)

What a lovely palate cleaner. Livesay takes one firm step after the last. The Creeks by contrast are not such a holding forth. The mood is for the reader. He moves instead to a more crisp and delicate gestures that are about living and directing attention more than directing. There are pings of well-turned and suggest what could be unpacked with time.

The opposite of poetry,

I never knew approximation. We were always precise. The invention of trickery, to save time and effort. A poppy, in stubbly light. Each fool makes a doctor, a trading ship. I would understand doors, thick and scrupulous. Reproduced as a corpse. A grape hyacinth. Strawberry posies.
There’s something like aphorism coloring but it glides more as an observation than a pat opinion. What relationship between the images are there? Doors as scrupulous, knock offs the way corpses copy one another. Then among all the disingenuousness of talking through loopholes (of the first 3 sentences) and overestimating what you know, there’s the relief of flowers and the surprise innocence of strawberry posies but even that image is troubled with posies being associated with stench of plague. A beauty not for its own sake but to survive with until loss is past. It all makes a kind of oblique sense.

110. The Laurentian Book of Movement by Christine McNair and rob mclennan (above/ground, 2013)

This collaborative series from a Quebec cottage has some starlit spots. For example the first poem where one place is held constant, but only as a place does with it fast-forwarding decades from thick woods to present

A thread pulls powder across various landmarks. We walk into the Metro. This is not a pilgrimage.

The English language corresponds with optical illusions. One looks too close sometimes, and words begin to shimmer, flick. A chance occurance, breathes.
The next poem has some of my favorite turning the tables on parts of speech and our relationships to objects “I pablum up the stairs. I beige myself to sleep. I infuse myself with weak tea.”

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

The Volta, September 2013: Women of Visual Poetry issue, ed. Jessica Smith

above/ground press author Jessica Smith has edited the September 2013 issue of the online journal The Volta as the "Women of Visual Poetry" issue, including the work of a ton of writers (including a number of above/ground press authors), such as Rosaire Appel, Petra Backonja, C. Mehrl Bennett, Maria Damon, Amanda Earl, Judith Copithorne, Jessica Smith, lindsay cahill, Susana Gardner, Sharon Harris, K. Lorraine Graham, Pearl Pirie, Deborah Poe, Michèle Provost, a rawlings, Sandra Stephenson, Eileen Tabios and Chris Turnbull.

Monday, September 2, 2013

the above/ground press 20th anniversary reading / launch / party! : a (small) report,

I'm still wiped out from the above/ground press 20th anniversary reading / launch / party held at The Mercury Lounge on August 23, with readings and launches by Marthe Reed, Gary Barwin, Marcus McCann, Wanda O'Connor and Monty Reid. Pearl Pirie was good enough to post a report on the event, as well as various photos on her flickr account. We had a packed house on the second floor "lounge level" of The Mercury Lounge, with a crowd of some sixty people or more, with five readers eacch reading under sparkly lights. The crowd included various above/ground press authors, numerous other writers and friends of the press including Amanda Earl, Rhonda Douglas, Rod Pederson, Vivian Vavassis, Steven Artelle, Jason Camlot, Cameron Anstee, Alexander Monker, Stephen Brockwell, Gwendolyn Guth, Frances Boyle, Charles Earl, Pearl Pirie, Jeff Blackman, Marilyn Irwin, JM Francheteau, Roland Prevost, Janice Tokar, Craig Calhoun, Brian Pirie, Mark Schaan and tons of others. Even my father-in-law was there, with his wife. Amazing! Thanks so much to the readers, the entire audience, and Sara Ainslie of The Mercury Lounge for their generous support.

Sometimes I really do find it amazing that I've managed to keep the press going for as long as I have, twenty continuous years of publishing. The other day, I even realized I'm most likely about five or six publications away from having produced seven hundred items through above/ground press. I've been amazed over the years at the wealth of writing and writers I've been fortunate enough to publish through the press, and the enormous support that I've received, both locally and far, far beyond.
Christine spent a couple of days beforehand building leather-bound cases for above/ground press "poem" broadsides, and she ended up making a "fetish object" of thirty "poem" broadsheets in a numbered edition of ten copies. Absolutely beautiful! All but two were immediately snapped up, and we think we're holding those back for something to come, soon (watch for announcements). Aslo, Cameron Anstee was good enough to produce a chapbook through Apt. 9 Press of the interview he spent six weeks or so conducting with me on the history of the press. Copies were available at the anniversary reading, and can now be ordered directly from him (while supplies last, obviously).
Local favourite Marcus McCann returned to town to launch his new above/ground press chapbook, constructed as an essay-through-poems on the work of Montreal poet David McGimpsey. Did I mention how much we miss him since he left for Toronto and Law School?
American poet Marthe Reed came to Ottawa to do her first Canadian reading, and read from a chapbook produced from a much larger work-in-progress. Now that she's recently moved with her family from Lafayette, Louisiana to New York State, hopefully this will simply be the first of many Canadian readings. 
And can you imagine, Christine even ordered a cake? It isn't a birthday party without a cake. (I do have the most amazing wife.)
Monty Reid launched a sequence of poems, and brought a calming, meditative effect to the evening. It's been interesting to see that most of Monty's published work over the past few years have been stretched-out, meditative sequences. It's long been a thread of Reid''s work, but it seems to be far more prominent now.

It might have taken nearly a decade of soliciting, but it was well worth the wait to be able to produce a chapbook by Wanda O'Connor, long moved from Ottawa to Montreal. This is easily the strongest work I've seen from her so far, and I'm excited to see what she releases next. She was also kind enough to present me with a gift-bag of Concordia-related items, and a t-shirt she had made for me, using the photo Brian Pirie took of an above/ground press "poem" broadside.
The last of the five readers, Gary Barwin, grew up in Ottawa (he attended the same high school as actress Sandra Oh and my daughter Kate, although at very different times), and always brings a variety of Barwi (what his father, Dr. Barwin and I have agreed is the plural of "Barwin") to any event, and this event was no different. The only regret is that Gary doesn't manage to come visit us more often.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

The Factory Reading Series : Kate Greenstreet, Paige Ackerson-Kiely + D.J. Dolack, October 21, 2013;

with readings by:
Kate Greenstreet
Paige Ackerson-Kiely
+ D.J. Dolack
lovingly hosted by rob mclennan
Monday, October 21, 2013;
doors 7pm; reading 7:30pm
The Carleton Tavern,
223 Armstrong Street (at Parkdale; upstairs)

Kate Greenstreet’s [pictured] third book Young Tambling is new from Ahsahta Press. Her previous books are case sensitive and The Last 4 Things, also with Ahsahta. For more information, visit her site at

Paige Ackerson-Kiely is the author of two full-length collections of poetry, In No One’s Land, and My Love is a Dead Arctic Explorer, and other works of poetry and prose (including a chapbook from above/ground press). She lives in rural VT ad works at a homeless shelter.

DJ Dolack’s work has appeared in journals including The Denver Quarterly, Handsome, Salt Hill and Diode. His chapbooks have been published by Eye For An Iris Press (12 Poems, 2010) and Greying Ghost Press (No Ser No., 2012), and his first full length collection, Whittling a New Face in the Dark is forthcoming from Black Ocean (August 2013). DJ has also written for Coldfront Magazine, where his video series Tourist Trap, NYC is a popular feature. He teaches writing at Baruch College, CUNY and lives in Jackson Heights, Queens.