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.