Friday, February 27, 2015

new from above/ground press: CASE STUDY: WITH, Jennifer Kronovet

Jennifer Kronovet

With the Boy, System

The boy: my little organ made to cause feeling, like a nerve mated with a liver processing me to make feeling come back. I thought there would be more thought involved. Rather, I am the director of making time between things happening. After a meal and before learning to talk are the sounds of birds. I notice them, and he notices himself pointing.
published in Ottawa by above/ground press
February 2015
a/g subscribers receive a complimentary copy

cover image: Ferdinand de Saussure (1857 – 1913)

Jennifer Kronovet is the author of the poetry collection Awayward. She co-translated The Acrobat, the selected poems of Yiddish writer Celia Dropkin. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in A Public Space, Aufgabe, Best Experimental Writing 2014 (Omnidawn), Bomb, Boston Review, Fence, the PEN Poetry Series, Privacy Policy: The Anthology of Surveillance Poetics (Black Ocean), and elsewhere. She has taught at Beijing Normal University, Columbia University, and Washington University in St. Louis. A native New Yorker, she currently lives in Guangzhou, China.

See her recent 12 or 20 questions interview here.

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

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Scott Bryson reviews rob mclennan’s How the alphabet was made, (2014) in Broken Pencil #66

Scott Bryson was good enough to review rob mclennan’s How the alphabet was made, (2014) in Broken Pencil #66. Thanks, Scott! Although I’m admittedly baffled, as the author, to have a reviewer make a definitive statement about how this work is patterned after a Rudyard Kipling tale: not only have I never made such a claim about Kipling or his writing in any way, his Just So Stories is a book I’ve never actually read (let alone heard of). Where is he getting this…? This is actually the second review of this chapbook, after an earlier review posted by Pearl Pirie.

This collection is loosely patterned after a Rudyard Kipling tale (of the same name) from Just So Stories (1902) and opens with a set-up quote from poet Pattie McCarthy’s book L&O, which itself riffs on the Kipling work. Kipling’s writings from the Just So Stories collection were crafted with the aim that children could comprehend them, though at their core they tackled complex topics – in this case, the semiotics of language.
            For his contribution to the discussion, rob mclennan examines a chosen set of letters (and variants, such as F#, Ph and xxx), not only from the point of view of what the letters represent as a fragment of language, but also from the perspective of what their shape, sound and use might symbolize or evoke, regardless of their primary function. The poem “A,” for example, describes the titular letter as the “Calcutta of key-strokes,” transforming its placement on a keyboard into a geographical state. As “A” continues, mclennan stirs up familiar imagery with “bull by the horns,” “We, who are wonderfully large,” and “Sidebar” – all phrases and words that seem to refer to the shape of the letter A.
            This is certainly one of mclennan’s more accessible above/ground press collections, though his penchant for cryptic statements remains intact. These poems appear to be constructed from cut-up and collaged words and sentence fragments that, though they don’t necessarily have anything in common with each other, are all in some way conjured by the letter the poem focuses on. Trying to unearth those connections – which in some cases perhaps only mclennan can see – is an intriguing endeavour.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Marilyn Irwin reads at VERSeFest Volunteer Appreciation w/ jwcurry, Benoit Christie etc March 1, 2015

above/ground press author Marilyn Irwin reads at the annual VERSeFest Volunteer Appreciation Night with jwcurry, Benoit Christie and others TBA.

Sunday, March 1, 2015
7:00pm / Pressed, 750 Gladstone, Ottawa, Ontario K1R 6X5
As they write: "Calling all 2014 and 2015 VERSeFest volunteers--all of us at VERSe Ottawa would like to show our appreciation for everything you do to make our festival possible year after year. Let us treat you to a night of stellar poetry readings, prizes, and swag & book giveaways!"

Info on VERSeFest 2015, Ottawa's fifth annual poetry festival, here:

Featuring poetry readings and/or music by:
& more coming!

Free admission! See you there!

Marilyn Irwin has been published by above/ground press, Arc Poetry Magazine, Bywords, and New American Writing, among others. Her fourth and most recent chapbook is tiny (In/Words Press). A fifth chapbook is imminent.

jwcurry: general cultural factotum since 1979 addressing æsthetic needs noöne ever even suspised the existence of (online presence primarily conducted at please go get pleasantly lost & don't just scrolldown the photoquilts, get in there & scout around bit by bit: there's lotsa random text attached to things). currently rebuilding Room 3o2 Books after a nasty eviction (needs support: Buy Rare Canadian AvantGarde Books Now) & the TesserActual ArteFact Gallery, 284 square feet of living concrete poetry on the outside & 6oo cubic feet of gallery space inside. let's just see what can be gotten away with...

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Scott Bryson reviews Andy Weaver’s Concatenations (2014) in Broken Pencil #66

Scott Bryson was good enough to review Andy Weaver’s Concatenations (2014) in Broken Pencil #66. Thanks, Scott!

There’s nothing elusive about the premise behind this collection. Concatenations consists of 26 poems, each starting with a different letter of the alphabet (A-Z, in order). Each poem has 26 lines, each line is a single word, and the first letters of the words cycle systematically through the alphabet. Andy Weaver’s greatest poetic accomplishment might be his successful employment of 26 different words that start with the letter X.
            While Weaver’s approach is playful, the result is often raw and guttural. There are regular word strings here that more or less form full sentences, but just as often, the words in these sequences come across like barked countdowns. Weaver gets at this himself in the opening poem: “Alas / biolinguistics / cannot / duly / explain / feverish / grunts / hummed / instances.” He hints, a little later, that meaning is especially obscure in this format: “nomenclatures / only / partially / quislingly / recognized / seen / tumbling / under-abyss / veiled.”
            Individual poems in Concatenations tend to stick to one broad theme, internally – for example: language, music, politics, religion – and there’s often substance to be found in what at first appears to be a random jumble of words. This collection is half the time amusing – Weaver’s ‘M’ poem breaks from the norm to start and end with “möbius” (i.e. the mathematically curious Möbius strip) – and half the time frustrating. Try to avoid getting tripped up by words like these: “quodammodative,” “xeriscaped,” “obtenebrating.” Have a dictionary handy.

Friday, February 13, 2015

The Factory Reading Series @ VERSeFest: Armand Garnet Ruffo and Lisa Jarnot, March 28, 2014!

The Factory Reading Series
as part of the fifth annual VERSeFest poetry festival presents:

The Factory Reading Series Lecture Series, two talks and readings by:
Armand Garnet Ruffo (Kingston ON)
Lisa Jarnot (Jackson Heights NY)

lovingly hosted by rob mclennan
Saturday, March 28, 2014
2:30pm at Pressed, 750 Gladstone Avenue, Ottawa
check the VERSeFest link for the full schedule of events!
March 24-29, 2015

Armand Garnet Ruffo was born in Chapleau, northern Ontario, with roots to the Sagamok Ojibwe First Nation and the Chapleau Fox Lake Cree First Nation. Ruffo's first collection of poetry, Opening In The Sky (1994), reveals an abiding interest in the complexities of Aboriginal identity in a multi-cultural society. His second book, the acclaimed Grey Owl: the Mystery of Archie Belaney (1997), is a creative poetic biography that further raises difficult questions about voice and identity, Aboriginal culture, human rights and the environment.  Ruffo won the Archibald Lampman Poetry Award for his third collection of poetry, At Geronimo’s Grave (2001), in which he uses Geronimo’s life as a metaphor for resistance and survival.  His latest writing project is the much anticipated Norval Morrisseau: Man Changing Into Thunderbird, a creative biography based on the life of the acclaimed Ojibway painter Norval Morrisseau, which will be released in the fall of 2014 through Douglas & McIntyre; The Thunderbird Poems, based on the paintings of the artist, which will appear in the spring of 2015.

In addition to writing poetry, Ruffo has written plays, short fiction and critical essays on Aboriginal literature, which continues to appear in literary periodicals and anthologies both in Canada and abroad.  His numerous publication credits include editing a collection of critical essays, (Ad)addressing Our Words: Aboriginal Perspectives on Aboriginal Literatures (2001), co-authoring the “Indigenous writing “ entry for The Cambridge History of Canadian Literature (2009) and co-editing the latest edition of Oxford University Press’ An Anthology of Canadian Native Literature in English (2013).

Ruffo returned to filmmaking after making experimental ‘video-poems’ in the 1980s and 1990s, and wrote and directed a feature film about the intergenerational impact of the residential school system. Released in 2010, A Windigo Tale won Best Picture at the American Indian Film Festival in San Francisco, and at The Dreamspeaker’s Film Festival in Edmonton, and went on to screen internationally.

He currently teaches Aboriginal literature and creative writing at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario.

Lisa Jarnot was born in Buffalo, New York in 1967 and studied at the State University of New York at Buffalo and Brown University. Since the mid-1990s she has been a resident of New York City.

She has edited two small magazines (No Trees, 1987-1990, and Troubled Surfer, 1991-1992) as well as The Poetry Project Newsletter and An Anthology of New (American) Poetry (Talisman House Publishers, 1997).

She is the author of four full-length collections of poetry: Some Other Kind of Mission (Burning Deck Press, 1996), Ring of Fire (Zoland Books, 2001 and Salt Publishers, 2003), Black Dog Songs (Flood Editions, 2003) and Night Scenes (Flood Editions, 2008). Her biography of the San Francisco poet Robert Duncan was published by the University of California Press in 2012 and was shortlisted for the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Randy Shilts Award for Gay Non-Fiction, and received Honorable Mention in Literature from American Publishers Awards program. A Selected Poems was published by City Lights in May of 2013.

She currently lives in Jackson Heights, New York with her husband and daughter. She works as a teacher, writer, and freelance gardener.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Call for submissions to the 2015 bpNichol Chapbook Award

Interested authors or publishers should submit three copies of a chapbook of poetry in English published in Canada.

Chapbooks should be not less than 10 pages and not more than 48 pages. The chapbooks must have been published between January 1st and December 31st of the previous year (2014), and the poet must be Canadian.

Submissions must be sent by Canada Post or courier (and not hand-delivered to a Meet The Presses collective member) and include a completed submission form or accurate facsimile (download the 2015 Submission Form), a brief C.V. of the author, including address, telephone number, and email address. Publisher contact information (contact person, mailing address, e-mail address, telephone contact) must also be included. Incomplete submissions will not be considered.

The closing date for the 2014 bpNichol Chapbook Award is May 29, 2015
. Submissions must be received by this date. If submission confirmation has not been received by e-mail by June 30, 2015, please send a query to Beth Follett at:

Send submissions to:
Meet the Presses / bpNichol Chapbook Award
113 Bond Street, St John’s NL A1C 1T6

For more information and to download a submission form, please visit the Meet The Presses website:

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

"poem" broadside #331 : "Has-Been" by Chris Johnson

I am a has-been, and I am for the weak and the masculine, the women, the groups who made new names just so they could fit in, and I can talk about sex and not blush, just like them, and sound smart and stand tall and move to Sweden with Cameron, and I don’t need to be ashamed of being another English grad who learned nothing about Milton (John)… because, fuck, I’m a Canadian and read Acorn (Milton, also), and I just saw that Book Bazaar has for $1700 the first book by Layton (Irving), and there’s a moment in time coming up or in the past when I will see my cock and think “I can be human,” and that might mean eating meat or breaking up or searching “Feminism” on, and I can shave or not shave and still appreciate Dylan (Bob) and Personism, which is, as we both know, that ethical philosophy Wikipedia says was typified by Seeger (Pete, not spelled like Seger, Bob) but I best know of via O’Hara (Frank)… or was it him… but, anyway, he’s someone I tell my lover to read, because, though Frank was gay, his love poems are just fucking brilliant, and if my lover is nude and descending a staircase I won’t be able to stop myself from thinking about that New York poet (?)… well, and Duchamp (Marcel, born Henri-Robert-Marcel), but maybe after a minute, because, unless my back is sore or I’m tired, the first thing I want to do when I see breasts is… something with my hands, and there’s not enough to do with my hands, and I still want to stitch books and talk about rhyme and the necessity of political poetry, those things that kept fuelling the Modernists (Canadian), but there’s not enough money in my bank account to pay for that Scott (F.R.) book printed by Contact Press in 1957, but I’m still in, if you’re still in?

Setting straight the ‘Shwa,
driving through, reading Wah and
haibun for the view

by Chris Johnson
produced for The Factory Reading Series,
Ottawa, January 9, 2015
above/ground press broadside #331

Chris Johnson is a has-been. He used to be an editor at In/Words Magazine & Press. He used to be a student at Carleton University. His poetry has previously appeared on, The Steel Chisel, The Peter F. Yacht Club and in a few nice little zines.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Scott Bryson reviews Megan Kaminski’s Wintering Prairie (2014) in Broken Pencil #66

Scott Bryson was good enough to review Megan Kaminski’s Wintering Prairie (2014) in Broken Pencil #66. Thanks, Scott! This is the third review of Kaminski’s chapbook, after a mention of such by Jim McCrary, and a more formal review by Ryan Pratt.

There’s a preparatory tone in the first page of this long poem that lends itself well to the images of wintering conjured by its title (wintering: to lodge, keep, or care for during the winter). “This poem will be a long one,” warns Megan Kaminski, “will widen will drift like snow.”
            That drifting is accomplished in a literal sense through an absence of capitalization, and symbolically via Kaminski’s subject matter. Movement permeates nearly every line in Wintering Prairie: “Long shadows and sun melt spread / across lawns across asphalt / neighborhood strip mall and shop.” If it weren’t for the occasional interjection that reads like a prayer – “I carry absence / I carry want / I carry body ache / on this bright day” – Wintering Prairie might be the print version of an episode of The Nature of Things; it glides across the landscape and zooms in on a particular scene for a few moments, before flying away again.
            A few cringe-worthy misspellings of “arctic” (as “artic”) aside, Wintering Prairie is a slick and evocative read. It delivers on its promise to drift, but Kaminski’s reluctance to focus for very long on any singular sketch occasionally leads to large chunks of text blowing by with little absorption. It covers a lot of ground in a short time.

Monday, February 2, 2015

The Factory Reading Series: Paige, Sheppy + Thomas, February 20, 2015

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

The Factory Reading Series presents:

Abby Paige (Ottawa)
Nikki Sheppy (Calgary)
+ Hugh Thomas (Fredericton)
lovingly hosted by rob mclennan
Friday, February 20, 2015;
doors 7pm; reading 7:30pm
The Carleton Tavern,
223 Armstrong Street (at Parkdale; upstairs)

Abby Paige
is a writer and performer whose work has been published in the US and Canada, recently including Room, Ottawater, Arc, and the Montreal Review of Books. Her chapbook, Other Brief Discourses, was published by Ottawa’s above/ground press in 2013. Abby was born and raised in Northern Vermont, and her solo show, Piecework: When We Were French, explores the legacy of French-Canadian immigration to northern New England. She has toured with the show throughout New England, and it is now available on DVD.

Nikki Sheppy is a poet, editor and arts journalist. She has a doctorate in English literature from the University of Calgary. Her book reviews have appeared in Uppercase Magazine, Alberta Views, and Lemon Hound, and her poetry in Event and Matrix. She serves as President of the Board of filling Station, Calgary’s experimental literary and arts magazine, and is the author of the poetry chapbook, Grrrrlhood: a ludic suite (Kalamalka 2014).

Hugh Thomas is a poet and translator living in Fredericton, where he teaches mathematics at the University of New Brunswick.  His most recent chapbook, Albanian Suite, was published by above/ground press in 2014.  His previous chapbook, Opening the Dictionary, also published by above/ground press, was shortlisted for the 2012 bpNichol chapbook award.