Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Pam Brown reviews Shikibu Shuffle, by Andrew Burke + Phil Hall

from Pam Brown's blog (see the original post here):

I recently received a box of an array of newly published pamphlets and chapbooks from Ottawa's above/ground press. One of them is a collaboration between the two well-known poets: Perth, Australia-based Andrew Burke and Perth, Canada-based Phil Hall. It's a really nice chapbook with a glued cover image (I think each cover is different), a bright orange fly leaf and a line drawing that resembles a rubber stamp, and could be a rubber stamp, on the title and end pages. There are fifteen short, minimal poems riffing on a tenth century Japanese poet. The suite is at once kind of dainty and perky. It's called Shikibu Shuffle.

The introductory page reads:

"Happy fate brought a poet from Perth Western Australia and a poet from Perth Ontario Canada together in 2009.

Then Andrew had a heart attack and was queued up for life-saving surgery.

With nothing to do but wait, kept alive by sprays and medical potions - to distract himself - Andrew agreed to work with Phil on a collaboration.

Andrew suggested the Japanese court poet Murasaki Shikibu (973-1014); her 5-line form might be a place to start.

Phil was thinking of Ornette Coleman: two quartets facing each other and going at it (1960).

We wrote in 5s back and forth, then shuffled our silence-inducing cacophony into 10s, then improvised from there...

Andrew's operation was bumped once, and then happened. He's fine.

The shuffle served its purpose, and now surprises and delights them both."


      I watch my chest
      rise and fall in the mirror

      nature in the raw

      nothing I see or think
      means anything to me

      then I plan to tell you about it

      and into each dull thunk
      like lemon on fish

      comes flugelhorn

      a faint zing


      Talking to the air

      I break cobwebs
      on the line

      cello   kite  fishing

      making lurid
      the net result

      while hammock hook shines

      sun holds   motes float

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

above/ground press author Gwendolyn Guth is featured at The in/words Reading Series, August 29 2012

In/Words: The Reading Series: Gwendolyn Guth (August Edition)
Wednesday, August 29, 2012
Clocktower Brew Pub 575 Bank Street - Ottawa, Ontario

This month In/Words has the privilege of featuring Gwen Guth. She is a super cool lady and I am tremendously excited to launch this years Reading Series with her. Gwen's work has previously been showcased by ottawater, bywords, yawp, above/ground press, Friday Circle ( The Flash of Longing chapbook), Tree and the University of Ottawa Press.

This is not a reading to miss - I mean it - it is going to be really, really great.

There will be a reasonable open mic set with new and exciting prizes.
Gwendolyn Guth, mother of three active boys, notes that super mom and super model have far less in common than their assonance would suggest. She has the enviable privilege of talking about literature for a living, at Heritage College in Gatineau. She is a long-time supporter of and participant in Ottawa literary ventures, including Bywords, above/ground, Ottawater, yawp, Friday Circle, Rideau Review, etc. Her second poetry chapbook, Good People (above/ground press, 2010), anticipates her first trade book, due any year now and fiercely successful in her dreams. She craves inner peace but settles for outer calm.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

above/ground press’ 19th anniversary/summer sale!

To celebrate nineteen months above/ground, we’re offering a summer sale of various new and backlist poetry chapbook titles until September 15, 2012 (while supplies last).

3 for $10 / 6 for $20 / 9 for $30 / 12 for $40 (etc);

Here is a rough list of chapbooks produced by above/ground press over the past nineteen months (a crazy amount of items, I know). A further list of backlist from last year’s sale exists here, but email me at rob_mclennan (at) hotmail.com to check on availability of various titles not immediately listed.

Anstee, Cameron. Regarding Renewal
Irwin, Marilyn. flicker
mclennan, rob and Christine McNair. Prelude: selections from a collaboration
Hogg, Robert. from Lamentations
Clarke, George Elliott. Selected Canticles
MacLeod, Kathryn. Entropic Suite
Stewart, Fenn. An OK Organ Man
mclennan, rob. This, circular tower
Hall, Phil and Andrew Burke. Shikibu Shuffle
Mangold, Sarah. Cupcake Royal
Babineau, Kemeny. After Progress
Young, Deanna. Mediterraneo
McKinnon, Barry. Into the Blind World
Blouin, Michael and Elizabeth Ranier. let lie/
Armantrout, Rae. Custom
Maguire, Shannon. Vowel Wolves & Other Knots
Martin, Camille. If Leaf, Then Arpeggio
Thomas, Hugh. Opening the Dictionary
Ackerson-Kiely, Paige. Book About a CandleBurning in a Shed
mclennan, rob, ed. Dear Robert Kroetsch
Kroetsch, Robert. Further to Our Conversation

To order, send cheques (add $1 for postage; outside Canada, add $2) to: rob mclennan, 402 McLeod St #3, Ottawa ON K2P 1A6 or paypal at www.robmclennan.blogspot.com

And watch for forthcoming above/ground press titles from Seth Landman, Deborah Poe, Shannon Maguire, Mark Cochrane and Allison Grayhurst, among others. Just what might the twentieth year of above/ground bring…?

Friday, August 10, 2012

some photos from last night's above/ground press 19th anniversary reading/anniversary/launch,

A stellar evening last night at Overkill, a small lounge just underneath The Mercury Lounge in Ottawa's Byward Market. Have you ever seen such a lovely picture of chapbooks?
With some forty people in attendance, we launched new publications by Amanda Earl, Cameron Anstee (above), Marilyn Irwin (below) and Stephen Brockwell (below-er), and nineteen years of chapbook publishing, and all four authors gave amazing readings. I even managed to have copies of both of Amanda Earl's previous above/ground press items, as well as Stephen Brockwell's, yet couldn't manage to find copies of Marilyn Irwin's previous above/ground press item (she brought some of her own copies along).

Thanks to everyone who participated in the event, from the readers to audience to bartendress, to Christine McNair, willing to be the evening's door person and bookseller. The audience was filled with Ottawa writers, including various above/ground authors and non-authors alike: Christian McPherson, Michelle Desberats (Eve'n Adam), Brandon McNally, Pearl Pirie (oath in the boathouse), Monique Desnoyers, David Currie, Vivian Vavassis and Bardia Sinaee. 

By October, I'll be announcing the 2013 above/ground press subscriptions, and watch for readings coming up this fall, with possible appearances by George Elliott Clarke, Shannon Maguire and Fenn Stewart, and a late March, 2013 reading by American poet Deborah Poe. Just what might the 20th anniversary bring...? 

Sunday, August 5, 2012

new from above/ground press: Sex First & Then A Sandwich by Amanda Earl

Sex First & Then A Sandwich
Amanda Earl

please no more poems of birds.  no. more.
or tender little flowers tossed about by rain

a friend has bedbugs again for the third time
picked up from a public library. the danger of reading

soon the easter eggs will spoil in this heat
all the sweet green icing flowing down

on the Waltons yesterday, Elizabeth couldn't walk
except by the end of the episode she did

you can learn a lot on Christian television
how to build, a crucifix, two towers

published in Ottawa by above/ground press
August 2012
a/g subscribers receive a complimentary copy

Sex First & Then A Sandwich is part of a longer work entitled “ghazals against the gradual demise,” which has been funded by the Ontario Arts Council Writers' Reserve Program & the City of Ottawa’s Creation and Production Fund for Professional Artists for which I am grateful.

These poems owe their inspiration to Jim Harrison’s Outlyer and Ghazals (Simon and Schuster, New York, 1969, 1971)

See her notes on the reading/launch here.

Amanda Earl’s poems appear most recently or are forthcoming in the Puritan, fillingStation, Rampike, In/Words Magazine, & ripple(s): a postcard press. Her chapbooks have been published by above/ground press, BookThug, Chapbook Publisher, Free Poetry For, Laurel Reed Books & Puddles of Sky Press. Amanda is the managing editor of Bywords.ca & the Bywords Quarterly Journal, & the (fallen) angel of AngelHousePress. For more information please visit www.amandaearl.com or follow her on Twitter @KikiFolle.

This is Earl’s third above/ground press title, after Eleanor (2007) and The Sad Phoenician’s Other Woman (2008).

See a review of her previous above/ground press work here.

To order, send cheques (add $1 for postage; outside Canada, add $2) to: rob mclennan, 402 McLeod St #3, Ottawa ON K2P 1A6 or paypal at www.robmclennan.blogspot.com

Friday, August 3, 2012

new from above/ground press: Regarding Renewal by Cameron Anstee

Regarding Renewal
Cameron Anstee

Drought Conditions

the day outlaws the sensations of breathing

the maniac air retreats; we will open the windows again when the sun is gone

outside is wreckage and drought and static

inside is the smooth machinery of your knees and shoulders

I place my ear on your chest

published in Ottawa by above/ground press
August 2012
a/g subscribers receive a complimentary copy

Cameron Anstee lives and writes in Ottawa ON where he runs Apt. 9 Press and is pursuing a PhD in English Literature at the University of Ottawa. Recent chapbooks have been published by above/ground press, The Emergency Response Unit, and St. Andrew Books. He blogs on things Ottawa, literary, and ephemeral at www.cameronanstee.wordpress.com.

This is Anstee’s second above/ground press title, after the collection Frank St. (2010).

To order, send cheques (add $1 for postage; outside Canada, add $2) to: rob mclennan, 402 McLeod St #3, Ottawa ON K2P 1A6 or paypal at www.robmclennan.blogspot.com

Thursday, August 2, 2012

new from above/ground press: flicker by Marilyn Irwin

Marilyn Irwin

i was a porcelain doll
steel, straw, firefly

by the front door

the door knob
echoes your fingerprints

i’m counting sheep:

published in Ottawa by above/ground press
August 2012
a/g subscribers receive a complimentary copy

Marilyn Irwin partook in two of Ottawa poet rob mclennan’s poetry workshops in 2010, and graduated from Algonquin College’s Creative Writing Certificate Program this Spring. Marilyn self-published her first chapbook for when you pick daisies (2010) which was immediately re-issued by above/ground press. Extrapolated fragments of her musings can be found in issues of Bywords, Bywords Quarterly Journal, ottawater and Peter F. Yacht Club.

This is Irwin’s second above/ground press title, after the collection for when you pick daisies (2010).

See reviews of her previous work here and here.

To order, send cheques (add $1 for postage; outside Canada, add $2) to: rob mclennan, 402 McLeod St #3, Ottawa ON K2P 1A6 or paypal at www.robmclennan.blogspot.com