Friday, November 25, 2016

above/ground press contributes to the filling Station fundraiser

above/ground press has donated a whole MOUND of chapbooks to the filling Station magazine fundraiser! [there have been a number of fundraisers lately; did you see this one for Canthius?] Check the link here to bid on this magnificent collection (some of which are extremely rare), or even here for other items in their fabulous auction! The nineteen titles included in the above/ground press package are by Calgary poets, both former and current, produced by above/ground press over the past two decades. Most of these items are still available through the press, but a couple of them only through the recent "backlist/rarities" list.

The Appetites of Tiny Hands
Natalee Caple

Julia Williams

[Dear Fred]
derek beaulieu

A, You're Adorable
George Bowering as "Ellen Field"

"Calcite Gours 1-19," STANZAS #38
derek beaulieu

ryan fitzpatrick

The writing that should enter into conversation
Natalie Simpson

& look there goes a sparrow transplanting soul [3 eclogues]
Emily Carr

Further to Our Conversation
Robert Kroetsch

@BillMurray in Purgatorio
nathan dueck

Cursed Objects
Jason Christie

Braking and Blather
Emily Ursuliak

transcend transcribe transfigure transform transgress
derek beaulieu

ryan fitzpatrick

The Charm
Jason Christie

Ins & Outs
Nicole Markotić

10 Poems
Christian Bök

ERASURE: a short story
Braydon Beaulieu

John Barton

Friday, November 11, 2016

“poem” broadside #340 : Quercus: “Nations hurled together so they might learn to know one another,” by Derek Beaulieu

Quercus: “Nations hurled together so they might learn to know one another”
by Derek Beaulieu
November 2016
above/ground press broadside #340

Derek Beaulieu
is the author of the collections of poetry with wax, fractal economies, chains, silence, ascender / descender, kern, frogments from the frag pool (co-written with Gary Barwin) and Please no more poetry: the poetry of derek beaulieu (Ed. Kit Dobson). He has also written 4 collections of conceptual fiction: a a novel, flatland, Local Colour and How To Write (Nominated for the W.O. Mitchell Award). He is the author of two collections of essays: Seen of the Crime and The Unbearable Contact with Poets. Beaulieu co-edited bill bissett’s RUSH: what fuckan theory (with Gregory Betts) and Writing Surfaces: fiction of John Riddell (with Lori Emerson). He is the publisher of the acclaimed no press and is the visual poetry editor at UBUWeb. Beaulieu has exhibited his work across Canada, the United States and Europe and is an award-winning instructor. Derek Beaulieu was the 2014–2016 Poet Laureate of Calgary, Canada. With rob mclennan, he edited the new anthology The Calgary Renaissance (Chaudiere Books).

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Ryan Pratt reviews Robert Hogg's from Lamentations (2016)

Ryan Pratt was good enough to review Robert Hogg's from Lamentations (2016) over at the ottawa poetry newsletter. Thanks much! This is actually the third review of Hogg's chapbook, after Rebecca Anne Banks reviewed such over at Subterranean Blue Poetry, and Scott Bryson reviewed such in Broken Pencil. You can see Pratt's review here. As he writes:
As its title suggests, from Lamentations is a sampler of poems from an as-yet-unreleased body of work about memory. That this is the compilation’s expanded, second edition implies considerable gestation time. But even without knowing that, the sporadic growth of this manuscript can be measured by dates that accompany each poem, marking when their finished drafts occurred. As a result, Robert Hogg explores the past in layers, writing about his childhood and formative years in the 1950s and 1960s via perspectives he held on dates ranging from the early '90s up until January of this year.

Hogg pokes and prods these breadcrumbs of autobiography for gleanings beyond his own experience. “Roy Rogers – a jazz elegy” and “Summer of sixty-three” deal in fractured, stream-of-conscious details that transpose the youthful significance of its subjects to disquieting uncertainty. He slows his boyhood’s galloping adoration for Hollywood cowboy Roy Rogers to examine the simple “good against evil” doctrine of America’s wild west:

the colorful black and white dazzle of your perfect horsemanship riding
full speed the reins wrapped around the horn those mother of pearl six guns
twirling round your index fingers and firing so perfectly the outlaws seemed
to fall and die but not really it was just like the make-believe we also played
Jesus Roy did you know all that when you practiced your squint in the mirror and
yodelled all those songs on the radio nights we were too young to know any better and
thought it was real romance?

Later, in "Summer of sixty-three", he steadies a romanticized image of his “bohemian goodfornothing but love and lovemaking friends” upon the dulling of years passed:

West Pender
Coal Harbour

place itself
nervous and precarious as this pad
perched on its stilts above a steep ravine

and below near the shoreline the rail yard
abyss we all knew
time was or would be

Tight, conservative stanzas like the above excerpt follow wooly, run-on yarns – sometimes within the same poem – as though the writer is torn between rose-tinted nostalgia and the dislocation of trying to categorize certain memories, decades on. Yet these poems aren’t so much conflicted by age as they are counterbalanced, the wild and restrained Robert Hogg appearing on page in roughly equal measure. The tone’s just right – good natured but deeply felt.

With “Ahead (in memoriam, Bob Creeley” and “Synapse, Mid-Morning, January”, the chapbook takes on true existential colours; the former poem aiding a good friend in traveling the mysteries of afterlife and the latter finding Hogg at present day, kindling a wood stove. There’s no sentiment in this last poem, just small observations on the present moment. And given so much space to interpret, I wonder if "Synapse, Mid-Morning, January" provides such a contrast from the bulk of from Lamentations because it signals the sort of insight one's left with after seventy-odd years on Earth. There's no ego; just a new memory, cut at the root.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

The Factory Reading Series pre-small press book fair reading, November 25, 2016: Strimas, Di Cicco, Brockwell, Fiszer + Marchand,

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

The Factory Reading Series
pre-small press book fair reading
featuring readings by:

Meagan Strimas (Toronto)
Pier Giorgio Di Cicco (Toronto)
Stephen Brockwell (Ottawa)
Doris Fiszer (Ottawa)
+ Blaine Marchand (Ottawa)
lovingly hosted by rob mclennan
Friday, November 25, 2016;
doors 7pm; reading 7:30pm
The Carleton Tavern,
223 Armstrong Street (at Parkdale; upstairs)

[And don’t forget the ottawa small press book fair, held the following day at the Jack Purcell Community Centre]

Meaghan Strimas [pictured] is the author of three poetry collections, Junkman’s Daughter, A Good Time Had By All and Yes or Nope, and the editor of The Selected Gwendolyn MacEwan. She grew up in Owen Sound, Ontario, and lives in Toronto, where she is a professor in the Department of English at Humber College and the managing editor of the Humber Literary Review.

Pier Giorgio Di Cicco is the author of twenty-two volumes of poetry, most recently My Life Without Me, and a book of manifestos on creative cities called Municipal Mind. He has lectured widely in the domain of creative economies throughout N. America and Europe and is the recipient of a Canadian Urban Institute Award for his thesis of civic spirit as the underpinning of prosperous modern cities. He is a Roman Catholic priest, a jazz trumpeter, and principal of the urban consultancy, “Municipal Mind” ( He is presently the public space liaison between the stakeholders of the Toronto waterfront land and the City of Toronto. He was the Poet Laureate of the City of Toronto between 2004 and 2009.

Stephen Brockwell cut his writing teeth in the ’80s in Montreal, appearing on French and English CBC Radio and in the anthologies Cross/cut: Contemporary English Quebec Poetry and The Insecurity of Art (both Véhicule Press, 1982). George Woodcock described Brockwell’s first book, The Wire in Fences, as having an “extraordinary range of empathies and perceptions.” Harold Bloom wrote that Brockwell’s second book, Cometology, “held rare and authentic promise.” Fruitfly Geographic won the Archibald Lampman award for best book of poetry in Ottawa in 2005. Brockwell currently operates a small IT consulting company from the 7th floor of the Chateau Laurier and lives in a house perpetually under construction. His most recent poetry title is All of Us Reticent, Here, Together, published by Mansfield Press.

Doris Fiszer is a member of Ruby Tuesday’s writing group. Her poetry has appeared in Bywords Quarterly Journal, and other local publications. Her chapbook The Binders won the 2016 Tree Chapbook Award and was published by Tree Press. The poems in the chapbook were inspired by her parents’ experiences in Nazi camps during world War 11 and are part of a larger collection she is currently working on. 

Blaine Marchand's poetry and prose has appeared in magazines across Canada and in the US. He has won several prizes for his writing, including 2nd Prize in the 1990 National Poetry Contest and the Archibald Lampman Award for Poetry for his book A Garden Enclosed. His two most recent books, Aperture and The Craving of Knives were short-listed for the Archibald Lampman Award in 2009 and 2010. He has six books of poetry published, a children's novel and a work of non-fiction.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

above/ground press at Meet the Presses + the ottawa small press book fair

above/ground press will again be participating in Toronto's annual Meet the Presses INDIE LITERARY MARKET on Saturday, November 19, 2016, 11:30am-4:30pm, at Trinity-St. Paul's Centre, 427 Bloor Street West, Toronto as well as the semi-annual ottawa small press book fair on Saturday, November 26, 2016, noon-5pm, in room 203 of the Jack Purcell Community Centre, Elgin Street at 320 Jack Purcell Lane, Ottawa. Both events are free to the public! But you should totally bring a handful of cash...

Of course, there will be a TON of above/ground press items, including a couple things I haven't even told you about yet! Come by and say hello, if you can...

Monday, November 7, 2016

Klara du Plessis reviews Sean Braune's the vitamins of an alphabet (2016) in Broken Pencil

Klara du Plessis was good enough to provide the first review of Sean Braune's the vitamins of an alphabet (2016) in Broken Pencil. Thanks much! You can see the review here. As she writes:
the vitamins of an alphabet starts in medias res. There is no title page. There is no title for the first poem. In fact, the first word of the first poem isn’t even capitalized, although the other poems in the collection abide by this convention. Sean Braune’s chapbook of poems launches itself as if it weren’t really the beginning, but rather an “alphabetic terrarium” – the poems are kept safe inside the physical form of this little book, but they exist equally off of the page and out in the real world. As Braune inquires: “Do the letters or languages live? / Do they exists beyond this typing.”

Braune enlivens language. Words grow organically (perhaps enriched by the “green, leafy / vegetable / vitamins / of an alphabet”) into each other based on sound or the concrete shape on the page rather than meaning: “a lattice work, but the lettuce effects no nourishment because a cause is a use of being a caucus of tic tac toe cacti / causus belli.” the vitamins of an alphabet is a playful treatise on the arbitrary nature of orthography. Indeed, in the section “Four Variations on the Signifier,” Braune further explores the conflict between the abstraction of language and the empirical world with a set of images labeled as modifications of the word “signifier,” such as “Signifire” or “Signifrier.” Now serious linguistic terminology evokes images of sausages on a grill. Braune’s poems are an equal mix of theory and jokester.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Jeff Low reviews Nicole Markotić's Ins & Outs (2015) in Broken Pencil

Jeff Low was good enough to provide the first review of Nicole Markotić's Ins & Outs (2015) in Broken Pencil. Thanks much! You can see the review here. As he writes:
Flip the page (literally); search for an alternate point of entry; without a handle, a door is just a wall: frustrated and feeling somewhat inadequate, I stumbled through Ins & Outs without a clue. I must be missing something. Or maybe it’s good at hiding. Regardless, you really have to investigate (or “stigate”) to coax meaning out of Markotić’s vertical poetics.

But frustration and feelings of incompletion run rampant throughout this zine. And, true to the nature of such things, there’s no self-affirming claim to meaning. Murmured clauses pool at the centre, arranged somewhat arbitrarily like the pull of gravity itself: “Who at this quisition deems non-stop sults as sufferable? / yes please”; “sung to the meld of orable banking / uh-huh, the candleabra’s plicable blue tremis / wait, don’t wander (save for haustible times)”. Too many speakers, or too many thoughts left unspoken, unclarified and subsequently meandering without ownership. The poems are arranged with respect to the reader’s experience during intake: negative space and stark alignment frustrates the potentiality of the pure white page, much like poetry’s insatiable promise of truth. Clarity offers little perspective. Confidence is often thwarted.

I’m a glutton for punishment and nit-picking, so Ins & Outs is an absolute treat. And I anticipate that this review holds all the same frustrations as the mumbling text itself. Another satisfying and characteristically complex read from above/ground press.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Pearl Pirie's sex in sevens (2016) is featured in Rusty's Reading List 2016

Pearl Pirie's most recent above/ground press chapbook, sex in sevens (2016) is featured in Rusty Priske's ongoing Rusty's Reading List 2016. Thanks much! As he writes:
I have been known to say that I am not a big fan of ‘sex poetry’. What I really mean is that I am not generally a fan of ‘erotic poetry’, though there have been exceptions.

This is the former without being the latter. The sex is there, but it certainly does not mean to titillate, rather… illuminate? Causing you to ruminate?

Or maybe just enjoy. This is a very good chapbook by a very good poet. Thanks to rob mclennan for passing this beauty my way. Thanks to Pearl for writing it.