Thursday, July 31, 2014

Monday, July 28, 2014

Touch the Donkey: self-profile and the release of the second issue!

In case you've wondered why I felt such need to invent a new magazine, there is now a self-profile of Touch the Donkey over at Open Book: Ontario. You can even head directly to the website to see information on the second issue, and remain posted on updates on our brand-new Facebook group. And yes, Touch the Donkey is included in the annual above/ground press subscription, in case you were wondering.

Email rob_mclennan (at) if you wish to be included on either the Touch the Donkey or above/ground press email lists for updates as well.

Watch the Touch the Donkey blog over the next few weeks for interviews with issue #2 contributors Pearl Pirie, David Peter Clark, Julie Carr, Susan Holbrook, Susanne Dyckman and Catherine Wagner!

Touch the Donkey. There's more than one way to get high, baby.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Cameron Anstee on Kemeny Babineau

Prompted by a recent publication by Kemeny Babineau, Ottawa poet (and above/ground press author) Cameron Anstee recently posted an entry on a number of Babineau's poetry books and chapbooks, including After Progress (above/ground press, 2012) over at his blog. Given the rarity of chapbooks reviews generally, it's good to see someone taking a longer view of Babineau's work overall.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

the chaudiere books 2014 (our rebuilding year) indiegogo campaign!

In case you weren't aware, Chaudiere Books exists as the trade extension of above/ground press (given that both are edited/published by myself), and we're in the midst of a big Indiegogo Campagin as part of our rebuilding year. Rebuilding, re-structuring and renewing the press since last summer, when Christine McNair became the other half of the press, we're two titles into our renewal (the Ground Rules anthology, and my recent collection of short fiction), with three more this fall: a second Chaudiere poetry title by Ottawa poet Monty Reid as well as first trade poetry collections by Ottawa poets Amanda Earl and Roland Prevost (all three have had multiple publications over the years through above/ground press), with a first title by Kemptville poet Chris Turnbull due out sometime in 2015. 

If and when you are able, go through the incredible list of perks by a variety of Chaudiere Books authors, including the recent documentary on John Newlove, signed first editions of David W. McFadden titles, and subscription packages, including a joint above/ground and Chaudiere package.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Stephen Brockwell reads at the In/Words + Capital Slam: A Summer Poetry Show

above/ground press author Stephen Brockwell (among others) reads on August 1, 2014 at Pressed Cafe on Gladstone Avenue, Ottawa, as the In/Words Reading Series and Capital Slam Collective join forces for A SUMMER POETRY SHOW. See the Facebook invitation here. Details below.
Sorry for yelling, but I want to make sure nobody misses this. We wish to invite everyone (that means you, yes you… or, wait… okay, yeah, you) to a very special event that will see In/Words Magazine & Press join forces with Ottawa’s Capital Poetry Slam for a special night of poetry. The idea for this show was birthed from the collective desire of CapSlam Coordinators and the In/Words editors to bring together local poets for a night of creativity and expression within the Ottawa poetry community. In coming together, the members of CapSlam and In/Words hope to put together a show that celebrates poetry’s many forms and communities. A good show is also a pretty easy way to get a bunch of cool people together in a room on a sticky summer night to have some fun. The evening’s lineup is as follows:

Dalton Derkson
Kevin Matthews
Stephen Brockwell

Brad Morden
JM Francheteau
Avonlea Fotheringham

The show will also open with the beautiful vocals of Julia Allen and her ukulele. Julia is an up-and-coming Ottawa based musician and both Julia and her music are contagious. There will also be a DJ spinning vinyl to facilitate intermission/post show mingling.

The show will kick off at 7 pm Friday, August 1st at Pressed Café on Gladstone. Tickets can be bought presale or at the door. All performers are loaning their time to help support these two poetry organizations, as all proceeds will directly contribute to In/Words and CapSlam operations.

Presale tickets:
$5 for students
$7 general
2 general tickets for $10 when purchased together
Presale tickets can be purchased at In/Words’ free monthly open mic event in the basement of The Clocktower Brew Pub (575 Bank St) on Wednesday, July 30th (9-11 pm). They can also be purchased at the In/Words Writers' Circle every Wednesday at 7 pm, held at Bridgehead, 750 Bank Street.

At the Door:
$7 for students
$10 General
2 Student tickets for $10
2 General tickets for $15

Friday, July 18, 2014

Helen Hajnoczky etc in Calgary: 100 Tender Buttons: a celebration of Gertrude Stein

Sunday, July 27, 2014
LOFT 112
535 8 Avenue SE, Calgary Alberta T2G 5S9

Montreal poet and above/ground press author Helen Hajnoczky is in Calgary, and she's doing a reading as part of a celebration of Gertrude Stein along with two other above/ground press authors: derek beaulieu and Natalie Simpson. See the facebook invitation here.
2014 is the 100th anniversary of the publication of Gertrude Stein's masterpiece TENDER BUTTONS. Join Calgary's Poet Laureate derek beaulieu on July 27th (the 68th anniversary of Stein's death) as he hosts an evening of poetic responses to Stein's work including readings by Natalie Simpson, Nikki Sheppy, Rachel Shabalin, Anj Fermor and Helen Hajnoczky!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

new from above/ground press: Source, by Susanne Dyckman

Susanne Dyckman


arranging, one can suppose,

a plate, bowl, water in a jar

simplicity, for others to enjoy

more action than story

daily service given

to first syllables

ma and pa,

though expelled

from the mouth

made kin     

published in Ottawa by above/ground press
July 2014
a/g subscribers receive a complimentary copy

Cover image excerpted from a photograph by gadl (Alexandre Duret-Lutz), Creative Commons Public License. 

Susanne Dyckman
is the author of a full-length book of poetry, equilibrium’s form (Shearsman), and two chapbooks, Counterweight (Woodland Editions) and Transiting Indigo (EtherDome Press). She was a co-editor of Five Fingers Review and has recently begun working with Instance Press.  She has taught creative writing at both San Francisco State University and the University of San Francisco, and lives in Albany, California, where she curates the Evelyn Avenue summer reading series.

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

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The Factory Reading Series : Tokar, Turnbull + Mannell, July 25, 2014;

with readings by:
Janice Tokar (Ottawa ON)
Chris Turnbull (Kemptville ON)
+ Julie Mannell (Montreal QC)
lovingly hosted by rob mclennan
Friday, July 25, 2014;
doors 7pm; reading 7:30pm
The Carleton Tavern,
223 Armstrong Street (at Parkdale; upstairs)

Janice Tokar’s [pictured] poetry has appeared in Arc Poetry Magazine, the Bywords Quarterly Journal, The Peter F. Yacht Club, ottawater and Experiment-O. Her first chapbook, Arrhythmia, was published by above/ground press in April, 2014. An earlier manuscript of  Arrhythmia placed second in the 2012 Tree Press Chapbook Contest.  Jason Heroux, the contest judge, commented: “Janice Tokar's spare, pulsing poems beat with the irregular rhythms of life, death, love and loss, searching for balance in a world where everything always seems slower or faster than it feels.” Originally from Manitoba, Janice resides and works in Ottawa.

Chris Turnbull lives in Kemptville, Ontario. In 2010, above/ground press published a chapbook of her visual and multi-performative piece, continua. Thuja Press published her chapbook Shingles in 2001. Her poetry has been published in The Volta, Ottawater, Convergences, How2, ditch, Dusie, Open Letter, Dandelion, and experiment-o (Angelhouse Press), among others. Occasionally, she has written poetry reviews and interviews, as well as the "On Writing" essay series at the ottawa poetry newsletter. Her sometimes small press mag, rout/e, has more recently become an ongoing footpress project involving placing poems on trails, including pieces from Monty Reid, George Bowering, rob mclennan, derek beaulieu, Amanda Earl, Pearl Pirie, Angela Rawlings (, Steven Ward, and Jamie Reid. The full-length "Continua" was recently accepted by Chaudiere Books for publication in 2015.

Julie Mannell, originally from the tiny village of Fonthill, Ontario, is a writer of fiction, poetry, and essays, and the founder of The McGill Creative Writing Society. She is currently a blogger for The Huffington Post and her work has been featured in The National Post, Matrix, SubTerrain, and Branch magazine, amongst others. Mannell is the recipient of The Lionel Shapiro Award for excellency in creative writing and the Mona Adilman Poetry Prize. Her work has garnered attention from celebrities like Roseanne Barr who gave her the "Vagenius Award". She currently works and writes in Montreal. Her forthcoming novel is tentatively titled "little girls".

Thursday, July 10, 2014

new from above/ground press: Braking and Blather, by Emily Ursuliak

Braking and Blather
Emily Ursuliak

His plump thumbs
are paper weights,
pinning the map,
the heft
of his barrel body
thrown forward,
as his index finger
etches possible routes.

The map
is more for Anne and Phyl
than for him:
Mr. Richter, their savior,
every goat track
and clear-cut path
is a memory woven
within a synapse.

An ample Bavarian,
a mountain guide,
he traded Alps for Rockies,
his English words still coated
with guttural German,
when he invites the girls
for an errand run
to Antler Lodge.
The three of them packed
in his crew cab truck.
Bottles of beer,
brought for the trip
jostle in the back.

They stop
at a colossal outcrop.
Mount Swanzy,
named for one
of Anne’s kin,
the mountain’s face
painted tawny
by the last slants
of a fading sun.

The gravel artery
carves higher.
Dusk clutches
the valley below.
The truck rolls
to a halt.
published in Ottawa by above/ground press
July 2014
a/g subscribers receive a complimentary copy

Emily Ursuliak
is the current fiction editor, and a member of the board, for filling Station magazine and an executive producer for the literary radio show Writer’s Block. This spring she was given the Volunteer of the Year Award by the Alberta Magazine and Publishers Association for her work with filling Station. She recently completed an MA in English at the University of Calgary where she worked on her first novel and collection of poems. You can find her work in Warpaint, Blue Skies Poetry, FreeFall, No Press and the anthology The Calgary Project: A City Map in Verse and Visual.

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

Monday, July 7, 2014

new from above/ground press: THE RAIN OF THE ICE, by Eric Baus

Eric Baus


The injured octopus commandeered my limbs. It furrowed a crown of iron from its sponge dome but I felt no cruelty in the creature's cage. The wall of its body was more an annoyed wave. I was being guided, rained into a room where a tiny moon arose. I was being aired out, not raided. I touched the closest tentacle and felt a burned down candle. We were sharing an urn that was groomed for the cliffs. Mute and molting, we grabbed talons. We were born in a town around the block from our remains. We felt sad for our hands. We had loved our lost moat.

published in Ottawa by above/ground press
July 2014
a/g subscribers receive a complimentary copy

Eric Baus
is the author of four books of poetry, The Tranquilized Tongue (City Lights, 2014), Scared Text (Center for Literary Publishing, 2011), Tuned Droves (Octopus Books, 2009) and The To Sound (Wave Books, 2004). He lives and teaches in Denver.

He also has work in the first issue of Touch the Donkey.

Cover image by Brian Lucas.

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

Friday, July 4, 2014

Brecken Hancock: Open Book: Toronto's July writer-in-residence

Ottawa poet and above/ground press author Brecken Hancock is Open Book: Toronto's July writer-in-residence! Her first post, "Our lives of no interest: The compulsion to confess," is now online, and you can keep track of her activity throughout the month here. Well done, Brecken!