Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Cary Fagan reviews Stephen Collis, FIRST SKETCH OF A POEM I WILL NOT HAVE WRITTEN (2017)



Toronto writer Cary Fagan was good enough to provide the first review for Stephen Collis’ FIRST SKETCH OF A POEM IWILL NOT HAVE WRITTEN (2017) over at his Bodies and Words. Thanks much! You can see Fagan’s post here. As he writes:

Stephen Collis, First Sketch of a Poem I Will Not Have Written.  Ottawa, above/ground press, 2017.
abovegroundpress.blogsplot.com

An emotion not felt so often in poetry is anger.  But I certainly feel it in Stephen Collis’ long poem (something above 150 lines) – anger at contemporary culture, at the stubbornness of capitalism, and perhaps at the corruption of poetry itself.  It’s full of interesting contradictions, the main one for me being that it is no flag-waving manifesto or populist call to the masses but instead intricate, fragmented, and often as not difficult.

At borders, frontiers, reaching
into the historical moment of listening
to insurrection and speech /
spur and limit
in place of the street / we have Facebook
Google is a universe we
No longer have to search the limits of
the revolutionary subject lies elsewhere
can we revive?

Sometimes he sounds like a tired and aging, but still raging lefty, hating the opium of the internet and pop songs that “tell us / nothing” (surely an unfair generalization these days).  He might be in an old-fashioned working man’s tavern, talking to a half-listening friend (“and sometimes David when I say politics / I mean poetics”), feeling defeated but with still some of the old energy in him.  His thoughts jump around, as if he might be half drunk or falling asleep-

swing low
Campanera. Missing. Cellphone. Rift. Blank. Space. Rosebud.
What body is general? Autonomous?
Gras. Roots. Bit. Torrent. Detainees. No one.  Illegal.

There’s another moment when a name is mentioned, likely a wife or partner: “Late now. Sound of the furnace. Cathy out. Girls asleep.”  This also gives the impression of a restless and unhappy soul wrestling with defeats and losses in the dark hours. But the lines always have a clean, sharp edge, expressing an intelligent consciousness that feels to me trapped inside a spiral of argument, trying to find a way out:

I ponder Empedocles and volcanos
the history of the oppressed
“If you go out and look for the economy
it is hard to find”
desire to become cosmos
to live in the limitless
connection of all things

As I read I began to expect some kind of uplift or release, some hope in the end, if faint or bleary.  Instead the poem ends in cynicism or perhaps just resignation: “god didn’t die / he was translated into money”.  But I took this as a momentary feeling, as if another moment chosen (five minutes before, one minute after) might have given us a different ending, a sense that the fight – in the street and on the page – must go on.

Monday, March 27, 2017

A Soundival of Sorts : Jennifer Baker + others

Rhombus 19 presents "A Soundival of Sorts." April 1, 8 pm, The Happy Goat Coffee Company, 35 Laurel St., Ottawa. An evening of sound poetry, experimental verse, and poetry theatre. Original compositions, plus works by Hugo Ball, Kurt Schwitters, Christian Bök, Caroline Bergvall, bpNichol, The Four Horsemen, Sesame Street, Michael Ondaatje, and others. Performed by students and faculty of UOttawa's Department of English. For more information, check out the Facebook link.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

new from above/ground press: Open Island, by Faizal Deen

Open Island
three poems
Faizal Deen
$3

Wrong Essays

begins a mouldy turn into kaiso
Archie “and Muslims in general”
better than the hippogriff Kali come to life
behind Sinbad
little master in Mom’s panties
read more hippogriff where the masters let them
Ray Harryhausen a thousand arms
head griffin claws
hooves horse tail
Moors from Afrique
In hybrid hands; Ottawa special effect.
“see, Orientalist!, see?”
every funeral, the 4th takbir, remain standing
without wing or hippogriff
Moderns grow lush in their dream of an open island
Okroes in the grabber of scotch bonnet
a dying shoreline Hellshire’s fried Dancehall
love affairs
“The Indies,” a moonlight Haji shears history
At Plaza, hands everywhere Sinbad.
At Plaza, read more hippogriff mister.
Mom turns walaikum into laughing Sparrow
blows loud balloons
this secret petition to Kali

published in Ottawa by above/ground press
March 2017
a/g subscribers receive a complimentary copy


Faizal Deen Forrester
is a doctoral student in the Department of English Language & Literature at Carleton University. As a contributor to the Migration and Diaspora Studies initiative at Carleton, Faizal seeks to address the ways in which the cultural production of Caribbean populations in Canada—in particular, the work of poets—encourages us to rethink existing notions of diasporic identity. Faizal has studied at Queen’s University at Kingston, Ontario, the University of the West Indies (Mona Campus), McGill University; and, most recently, received an MA in Creative Writing from the University of Windsor. As Faizal Deen, he maintains—along with his scholarly endeavours—an acclaimed poetry practice, beginning in 2000 with the publication of Land Without Chocolate, a Memoir, Guyana’s first LGBTQI poetry collection. His most recent collection, The Greatest Films, which, in part, addresses Caribbean queer Islamic identities in the post-9/11 era, was published by Mawenzi House.

[Produced for Deen's participation in Ottawa's 7th annual VERSeFest, March 21-26]

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 www.robmclennan.blogspot.com

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

new from above/ground press: The Peter F Yacht Club #25; VERSeFest special!

The Peter F Yacht Club #25
VERSeFest 2017 special

edited by rob mclennan
$6


With new writing by a host of Peter F Yacht Club regulars, irregulars and VERSeFest 2017 participants, including Cameron Anstee, Frances Boyle, Jason Christie, Stephen Collis, Anita Dolman, Amanda Earl, Patrick Friesen, Lea Graham, Marilyn Irwin, Gil McElroy, rob mclennan, Uxío Novoneyra, trans. Erín Moure, Pearl Pirie, Roland Prevost, D.S. Stymiest and Janice Tokar.

published in Ottawa by above/ground press
March 2017
a/g subscribers receive a complimentary copy
[a small stack of copies will be distributed free as part of the fifth annual VERSeFest, March 21-26, 2017]


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 www.robmclennan.blogspot.com

Monday, March 20, 2017

new from above/ground press: Marilyn Irwin, north

north
Marilyn Irwin
$5


(&)
the spider plant
is unhappy
its foliage is
growing wrong,
pushed up against the wall
it is browning; it is dying
it is holding on because it has to
roots, pot, gravity
it turns away from the sun
it is trying

published in Ottawa by above/ground press
March 2017
a/g subscribers receive a complimentary copy


Shortlisted for the 2016 bpNichol Award, a 2014 Tree Reading Series Hot Ottawa Voice, and winner of the 2013 Diana Brebner Prize, Marilyn Irwin has no idea how she got here. Her work, including seven chapbooks, has been published by above/ground press, Apt. 9 Press, Arc Magazine, Matrix Magazine, and Puddles of Sky, among others.  She runs shreeking violet press in Ottawa.

[Produced for Irwin's participation in Ottawa's 7th annual VERSeFest, March 21-26]

This is Irwin’s third chapbook with above/ground press, after for when you pick daisies (2010) and flicker (2012).

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 www.robmclennan.blogspot.com

Thursday, March 16, 2017

new from above/ground press: poorsong one, by Lisa Robertson

poorsong one
Lisa Robertson
$4


Day Opens on Water
You say the Water is not a Grave

Over the still mirror of Water
Love moves the Bright Shadows
Penetrates Borders

published in Ottawa by above/ground press
March 2017
a/g subscribers receive a complimentary copy

Lisa Robertson
lives in the village of Nalliers (population 310), on the Gartempe River, which drains from the Massif Central into the Loire basin. This region is the historic border zone of old Aquitaine, also the ragged border zone of old Occitan, and French. The current economy is based on small scale agriculture, the building trades, a plastic bag factory, and under-the-table activities. She moved to the region in 2004; she began making chapbooks in the late 80s in Vancouver. Her most recent book is 3 Summers.

This is Robertson’s second title with above/ground press, after On Physical Real Beginning and What Happens Next (2012).

[Produced for Robertson's participation in Ottawa's 7th annual VERSeFest, March 21-26]

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 www.robmclennan.blogspot.com