Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Lyndsay Kirkham reviews Jennifer Baker’s Abject Lessons (2014) in Broken Pencil #68

Lyndsay Kirkham was good enough to review Jennifer Baker’s Abject Lessons (2014) in Broken Pencil #68. Thanks so much! This is actually the second full review of Baker’s chapbook (apart from Cameron Anstee’s mention), after Ryan Pratt reviewed such over at the ottawa poetry newsletter. And of course, copies of Baker’s chapbook is still very much available. As she writes:

This new chapbook by Ottawa-based poet Jennifer Baker is a standout collection that provokes not only in its entirety, but also in its individual missives, returning to the reader long after the initial ingestion. Baker’s free verse is stitched together by her overarching theme of “place”; Abject Lessons also nudges at more nuanced concepts such as, Canadian geography, the home, and gendered canonical placement, while constantly echoing a deeply personal longing to understand one’s own place.
            There is a playful undercurrent of literary theory throughout Baker’s collection that manages to avoid heavy handed pretentions, functioning less as an ostentatious device and more as an authentic octave in the poet’s voice, leaving her words accessible to all readers.
            Many of the pieces in Abject Lessons blend the personal and political, offering an inner scenery that doubles as a critical lens for larger ideas such as colonialism and “Twitter Feminism.” It is after a full reading of “Pilgrim” that a reader feels the full impact of the author’s ability to dance with competing partners: Canadian history and her family’s personal journey.
            Punctuation (with only an occasional em-dash, colon or ampersand) floats through the entire collection like a ghost. One feels that extensive editing has extracted all mechanical signposts from the poems, the absence working as a tool for reader-framed meaning making.
            A minimal number of the selections, particularly “Abject Lessons VIII” and “Abject Lessons X” impress themselves on the reader as mere filler, lacking any obvious relationship with the remainder of the collection’s broader scope. In contrast, with further development both “Pilgrim” and “Dwelling” have potential to be their own collections.
            With a guttural and rhythmic measure, Abject Lessons leaves the reader with dirty finger nails, and an unexpected loathing of Irving Layton; a gem in above/ground’s solid backlist, worth the $4.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Pearl Pirie reviews Elizabeth Robinson's Simplified Holy Passage (2015)

Pearl Pirie was good enough to provide the first review for Elizabeth Robinson's Simplified Holy Passage (2015) as #100 in her "95 Books" list. Thanks so much! See the original review here.

And of course, her chapbook is still very much available! As she writes:
Got as part of my above/ground subscription, this was a pleasure to read and re-read. Teasing apart ideas, returning, squeezing and tugging again. Meditation/reflection over a couple dozen days. As a long thought, turned over and over, how to excerpt? Part of the beauty is in how it moves, doubles back, picks up some thoughts from before, re-examines and finds new things. It suggests walking along a beach looking for the best shell, assessing the pocketed ones, throwing some back, upgrading, and walking more.
day 5

The question is how can one pick up a process and continue it after an interruption. If that is even possible.

Interruption being, after all, the most holy passage.

If not the most simple.
A bit fey and may not make sense when feeling expedient yet with a bigger view and slower mood, it seems a question that’s reasonable. It’s similar to someone admonishing “you can’t do that” while it is in the process of being done— it’s rhetorical more than real inquiry. There is only interruption and continuing. What are the holy passages in life? Can we step outside any? Some seem more soft-box and Seeming to Signify. If we are rushing past the glorious and peeved at the beautiful it doesn’t erase the beauty, just eclipse it for us by our gestures. In the garage, day 7
The man says that he thinks they can repair the leak soon.

I am not sure where I want to go, except away from here
(and that’s a metaphysical issue). Sitting beside an
as for a car battery called “Power Pro”
Being aware of the moment we are in with peripheral vision of what’s coming in, where we’ve been and self-aware enough to distinguish between inward and outward, that’s doing good work in poetry.

Monday, July 27, 2015

new from above/ground press: ins & outs, by Nicole Markotić

ins & outs
Nicole Markotić

dulge me
eh [?]

(ex)it stage

how to habit one more clinic for curables
wind about the adequacy of going
cognito. ahem

ponential posure leads
(out-there) to here

stigate (again and again) any volution
that luges and lutes, that bites, chews, wraps-around
as festations flects to the left
transigent telligensia: add a twirl, toe another footnote

she advertently paged through the bingo vincibles
published in Ottawa by above/ground press
July 2015
a/g subscribers receive a complimentary copy

Nicole Markotić’s
books include Bent at the Spine and Scrapbook of My Years as a Zealot. She has published in numerous literary journals in Canada, the USA, Australia, and Europe. She edits the chapbook series, Wrinkle Press, has worked as a freelance editor, and is on the NeWest Press board. She teaches Literature, Creative Writing, and Disability Studies at the University of Windsor, and is editing a collection of essays (for Guernica Press) on Robert Kroetsch.

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, July 21, 2015

new from above/ground press: Simplified Holy Passage, by Elizabeth Robinson

Simplified Holy Passage
Elizabeth Robinson

It seems possible that one could hate one’s place but still
love the world around it.

Image: there’s a bowl that has some spoiled food in it, but the bowl
itself represents the possibility of spilling out what

it holds—old, inedible food, the spray of a sneeze. 

The exercise
would be to know (let me work this out—)

if the place is in the world,
and the food is in the bowl,

there is, by implication, something beyond world and bowl.

Something ready to be poured, sneezed upon, a place it
is acceptable to spill what we don’t want or just

spill by accident.
published in Ottawa by above/ground press
July 2015
a/g subscribers receive a complimentary copy

Elizabeth Robinson
is the author of several collections of poetry, most recently Counterpart (Ahsahta) and Blue Heron (Center for Literary Publishing). Her mixed genre meditation, On Ghosts, was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times book award. She co-edits the literary journal Pallaksch.Pallaksch with Steve Seidenberg. With Laura Sims, Beth Anderson, and Susanne Dyckman, she co-edits Instance Press.

An earlier fragment appeared in the fifth issue of Touch the Donkey.

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, July 20, 2015

Framework: Words on the Land. Public reading and conversation w/ Hall, Blouin, Holmes, etc

Framework: Words on the Land. Public reading and conversation with 10 writers writing in-situ at Fieldwork. Sunday, August 23. 3 pm.

Fieldwork is excited to be partnering with the Ottawa International Writers Festival/Perth Chapter this year to present a new event called Framework: Words on the Land coming up on August 23 at 3pm. This event will include readings and conversations with ten writers (including a couple of past and present above/ground press authors) who will have just finished a weekend of writing in-situ at Fieldwork.

Writers:  Amanda West Lewis, Amanda Jernigan, Phil Hall, Michael Blouin, Matthew Holmes, Wayne Grady, Merilyn Simonds, Christine Pountney, Jeff Warren, Troy MacClure. For further information, including ticket information, click here.