Thursday, September 14, 2017

above/ground press: 2018 subscriptions now available!

TWENTY-FIVE YEARS! How the hell did I manage to get to a quarter century? And with nearly eight hundred and fifty titles produced so far, there's been a ton of above/ground press activity over the past year, including some thirty chapbooks (so far) produced in 2017 alone (including titles by rob mclennanAmanda EarlKristina DrakeStephanie BolsterAdele GrafBuck DownsSarah Dowlingnathan dueckSarah CookJessica SmithIan WhistleFaizal Deen, Marilyn IrwinLisa RobertsonJordan AbelStephen CollisSandra Moussempès (trans. Eléna Rivera)Sarah FoxBrenda IijimaJake SyersakHelen HajnoczkyDerek BeaulieuKyle Flemmerphilip mileticGeoffrey YoungJason ChristieCarrie Hunter and Sarah Swan, all of which are still in print), to The Factory Reading Series and the poetry journal Touch the Donkey (included as part of the above/ground press subscription!). Just what else might happen? Current and forthcoming items include works by natalie hanna, Katy Lederer, Valerie Coulton, Sacha Archer, Joe Blades, N.W. Lea, Matthew Johnstone, Eric Schmaltz, Geoffrey Nilson, Andrew Cantrell, Alyssa Bridgman and Anna Gurton-Wachter as well as a whole slew of publications that haven't even been decided on yet. 

And 20th anniversary reissues of titles by Gil McElroy and John Newlove are already scheduled for 2019! Gah!

2018 annual subscriptions (and resubscriptions) are now available: $65 (CAN; American subscribers, $65 US; $90 international) for everything above/ground press makes from the moment you subscribe through to the end of 2018, including chapbooks, broadsheets, The Peter F. Yacht Club and Touch the Donkey (have you been keeping track of the dozens of interviews posted to the Touch the Donkey site?).

Anyone who subscribes on or by November 1st will also receive the last above/ground press package (or two) of 2017, including those exciting new titles by all of those folk listed above, plus whatever else the press happens to produce before the turn of the new year, as well as Touch the Donkey #15 (scheduled to release on October 15)!

Why wait? You can either send a cheque (payable to rob mclennan) to 2423 Alta Vista Drive, Ottawa, Ontario K1H 7M9, or send money via paypal to rob_mclennan (at)

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Joel W. Vaughan reviews Christian Bök's 10 Poems (2016) in Broken Pencil #76

Joel W. Vaughan was good enough to provide a generous (as well as the first) review of Christian Bök's 10 Poems (2016) in Broken Pencil. Thanks so much! You can see the original review here. The review reads:
Christian Bök has become, since the popularity and critical success of his 2001 Eunoia, something of a (divisive) house-hold name in Canadian poetry. It is likely that anyone already familiar with his work has a strong opinion on it, and it is equally likely that 10 Poems will further entrench that opinion, whether it be positive or negative. I happen to really enjoy Eunoia, Bök, and — no surprise — 10 Poems.

These poems extend Bök’s method of linguistic play into a few new interesting corners. In “The Doomsday Song,” he for-mats comic-book style onomatopoeia (think “KROOM! KROOM! KRAKOOM! / KRAKA-DOOM! KA-DOOM!”) into a kind of table of contents, bridging the gap between his deconstruction of English and his tension between language-heard and language-read. In his “Phonological Key”, printed as a poem in itself, he deliberately guides the reader through missteps, so that the pronunciation of subsequent poems is always off-kilter. If “u = ‘oo’ as in lute” for instance, then the “blubbering / rubber gut” in the following poem must be pronounced “bloobering roober goot.”

Bök’s work here then is as opaque as you ask it to be. He places pointed stress on the English language in an effort to decentre it, and the result is a series of poems that are as familiar as they are foreign. I have encountered many who find this frustrating, but just as many who appreciate the game being played. I find myself in the latter category, and recommend above/ground press’s print-ing of Bök just as heartily as I would Coach House’s or Northwestern University’s.

Monday, August 21, 2017

new from above/ground press: It's still winter, by rob mclennan

It's still winter
rob mclennan

My daughter is in New York City

I awake myself to sentences: common, and unmoved. A way of remembering. Outside is eleven below. A dusty sweep of snow crosses our icy driveway. My daughter is in New York City, celebrating. The baby is asleep. The poem is the distance between early morning rustlings: the toddler, cat. This is the last day of the year.

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

Born in Ottawa, Canada’s glorious capital city, rob mclennan currently lives in Ottawa, where he is home full-time with the two wee girls he shares with Christine McNair. The author of more than thirty trade books of poetry, fiction and non-fiction, he won the John Newlove Poetry Award in 2010, the Council for the Arts in Ottawa Mid-Career Award in 2014, and was longlisted for the CBC Poetry Prize in 2012. In March, 2016, he was inducted into the VERSe Ottawa Hall of Honour. His most recent titles include The Uncertainty Principle: stories, (Chaudiere Books, 2014) and the poetry collection A perimeter (New Star Books, 2016). He has two poetry collections forthcoming: Life Sentence (Flat Singles Press, 2018) and Household items (Salmon Poetry, 2018). An editor and publisher, he runs above/ground press, Chaudiere Books (with Christine McNair), The Garneau Review (, seventeen seconds: a journal of poetry and poetics (, Touch the Donkey ( and the Ottawa poetry pdf annual ottawater ( He is “Interviews Editor” at Queen Mob’s Teahouse, a regular contributor to the Ploughshares blog, and an editor/managing editor of many gendered mothers. He spent the 2007-8 academic year in Edmonton as writer-in-residence at the University of Alberta, and regularly posts reviews, essays, interviews and other notices at

This is mclennan's millionth chapbook with above/ground press [see his prior one here; see a longer list here]. There are too many to list.

[Produced for the above/ground press 24th anniversary reading/launch/party! Thursday, August 31, 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

Friday, August 18, 2017

new from above/ground press: Lady Lazarus Redux, by Amanda Earl

Lady Lazarus Redux
Amanda Earl

Part Nine: The Peanut-Crunching Crowd

Now I have lost myself, I am sick of baggage.
        Sylvia Plath, Tulips


Pain thrusts me out of a good dream. I lick sweat from my upper lip, the white hot stab into my spine, a knife blade of agony, metal scorch. I slouch too much. My posture is bad. A ghost has told me so.


I inherited this gloom from Victorian ancestors, my father’s sister locked in the attic for loving  a boy, starved herself to death. Who knows what else weighs down my genealogy. I imagine a deep lake surrounded by fog, dark clouds rising. A solitary figure rowing toward mountains of slate with traces of blood in the rock.


I type out near-naked optimism but the words are vulnerable. They fall off the page. Leaving only SOS in Morse Code.


Days when the fringe is salvation from unbleached gullibility. I continue as other. Your counterpart alien. Our skin doesn’t fit. It covers up our sparks.


The close bite of regret because I can’t love anyone who blows their trumpet, worn out, no longer shining. I won’t settle. I inflame. I pick the orange card from the deck: synonym for burning.


I enlarge photographs of murdered temperaments. Close up of a snapped wing, contorted torso unfeathered and naked, a gaping mouth in madder red, its last sound bludgeoned.


Cannot control outer turbulence. Heaven doesn’t want me. Demons gnaw at my anxiety, a tasty gizzard. I am offal, leftover heart and spleen, undesirable and cheap.


Let’s be lovers in soft focus. Triangulate our mutual terror for a selfie.


A stream of fear-mongering invective rules the Internet. For a quarter century I thrived off grid. I don’t mean to suggest it was perfect. I ran away daily from the family red-brick. Angsty bike-rides where I fell on gravel, the relief of scraped knees. Wounds I could see.


Flashes of heat and cold and insight and melancholy and temper and focus. This mercurial age. Look forward to a decade of mood swings, says the fortune cookie. Lucky Numbers: 10, 65, 100.


This work is a guided remix. I collected 300 nouns from Gwendolyn MacEwen’s Volume One, the Early Years, and Adrienne Rich’s Collected Poems; 300 verbs from Anne Sexton’s Selected Poems and 300 qualifiers from Sylvia Plath’s Collected Poems.  I placed each category into bowls and drew index cards like one would Tarot cards, to tell the fortune of the speaker of the poem, a woman in her fifties who is entering menopause. As Jack Spicer has said in his reference to the French poet René Char: “There’s plenty of fudging that’s allowed in this kind of thing. But the old thing that René Char said, he said that the poet should have a sign on his wall saying, ‘CHEAT AT THIS GAME.’”   I used the words I pulled from the bowls either directly or came up with an associated image. In the editing process, some of these disappeared; some were added. I went through the bowls ten times and wrote ten poems for each pass. The number 10, in numerology is a symbol of change. In Hebrew it is the number from which all things come and to which all things must return. In the Kabala it is the Tree of Life and represents an old soul. Each suit in the minor arcana of a tarot deck has ten cards. Section titles represent the major arcana: people, animals and things from Sylvia Plath’s Lady Lazarus. I envisage tarot-card-like drawings for each section. Quotes from each section are from Sylvia Plath’s “Ariel,” a book I reread again and again because it haunts me.
I chose to work with the vocabulary and imagery of Plath, McEwen, Sexton and Rich for reasons other than just that I admire their writing and the topics they wrote about as women resonated for this project: Plath committed suicide the year of my birth. McEwen died at age 46, which is how old I was when I almost died. Sexton died in October, the month of my birth. Rich used her poetry to fight against women’s oppression, an oppression I notice keenly as I age.

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

Amanda Earl
is an Ottawa writer, publisher and visual poet. She’s the managing editor of and the fallen angel of AngelHousePress. More information is available at

This is Earl’s fifth chapbook with above/ground press, after Eleanor (2007), The Sad Phoenician’s Other Woman (2008), Sex First & Then A Sandwich (2012) and A Book of Saints (2015).

[Produced for the above/ground press 24th anniversary reading/launch/party! Thursday, August 31, 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