Wednesday, April 25, 2018

above/ground press 25th anniversary essay: Sean Braune

This is the seventeenth in a series of short essays/reminiscences by a variety of authors and friends of the press to help mark the quarter century mark of above/ground. See links to the whole series here.

On above/ground press as it turns 25

Poetry was supposed to be some kind of vanguard. Someone told me this at some point. I’m not sure who it was, but someone told me that. In an alleyway. A long time ago.

When one starts off “being” a poet or going to work at the poetry factory or whatever else, one expects some sort of linguistic subterfuge—to be in it and also a cause of it. Maybe. Ideally? Is this impulse the political in the poetic? Sometimes. I guess it depends.

Poetry is about community or should be and sometimes it isn’t, but the best presses and reading series create communities around them. They induce a sort of communal experience of support and creativity (or they should). Again, this can happen in the best of circumstances and against some of the more awful, patriarchal and misogynistic impulses of CanLit.

Here we all are, standing around the dumpster fire. My feet are cold. Actually, nothing is warming up. In light of all that is negative about CanLit nowadays, there are some bastions of “hope” or whatever in the abyss.

rob mclennan’s above/ground press is one of these bastions. He has fought tirelessly (and I use that word intentionally) to publish adventurous and exciting poetry without reprieve for 25 years.

above/ground was, for me, like some of the more exciting presses when I first got into Canadian poetry a decade ago: presses like BookThug and Coach House and Wolsak and Wynn, etc.; and some chapbook presses like derek beaulieu’s own 13-year-old no press or the wonderful (and far too short-lived) Ferno House Press. rob doesn’t stop though. He’s a poetry machine. And he’s fighting the good fight. And poets notice.

I like above/ground because it hasn’t lost being a bit under/ground and it maintains that most exciting aspect of poetry, which, for me, is finding some new, wonderful gem (of a poem, poetry book, or poet) on a shelf in a bookstore or hearing about an old poet or poem that I hadn’t known about or learning about some new work recently published. above/ground is a kind of laboratory of poetry that keeps pressing out fantastic poetry and it is, 25 years after its inception in 1993, a shining beacon in the darkness of the dumpster fire… 

Sean Braune’s first book of philosophy, Language Parasites: Of Phorontology, appeared in 2017 from Punctum Books. His poetry has appeared in The Puritan, Rampike, Poetry is Dead, and elsewhere. He is currently in the process of editing his first feature-length film called Nuptials.

Braune is the author of two above/ground press chapbooks, including the vitamins of an alphabet (2016) and The Cosmos (2018). A third is scheduled for release this fall.

Monday, April 16, 2018

new from above/ground press: Glosas for Tired Eyes Volume 2, by Dani Spinosa

Glosas for Tired Eyes Volume 2
Dani Spinosa

Judith Copithorne

published in Ottawa by above/ground press
April 2018
celebrating twenty-five years of above/ground press
a/g subscribers receive a complimentary copy

Dani Spinosa
is a poet of digital and print media, an on-again-off-again precarious professor, the Managing Editor of the Electronic Literature Directory, and a co-founding editor of Gap Riot Press. Her first chapbook, Glosas for Tired Eyes, was published in 2017 with No Press and her first scholarly manuscript, Anarchists in the Academy: Machines and Free Readers in Experimental Poetry is forthcoming from University of Alberta Press (Spring 2018).

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, April 13, 2018

above/ground press at Kanada Koncrete, Loud Mouths: Anstee, Atkins, Beaulieu, Betts, Davey, Earl, Spinosa, etc

A cavalcade of above/ground press authors (including Cameron Anstee, Tim Atkins, Derek Beaulieu, Gregory Betts, Frank Davey, Amanda Earl and Dani Spinosa) will be performing Saturday, May 5, 2018 at 8pm at LOUD MOUTHS, an evening of short poetic performances by participants of Kanada Koncrete: Material Poetries in the Digital Age, this year's annual University of Ottawa Literature Symposium. The event will be free! Held at the Happy Goat Coffee Co., 35 Laurel Street, Ottawa.

See the Facebook event here.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

new from above/ground press: From Being Without Substance, by Andrew Wessels

From Being Without Substance
by Andrew Wessels

The motif of a man
imprisoned in a tree:

might time rise stunned
in a region of hell. Lest mind
or “brother” deceive,

the creature—
traditionally the unbaptized
abode— was accustomed
to strange doubt.


The north wind
expresses wandering.

Whether the double being
is used diversely,
which one (of two)
rewards frailty?

Spoil of battle derives from

published in Ottawa by above/ground press
April 2018
celebrating twenty-five years of above/ground press
a/g subscribers receive a complimentary copy

Andrew Wessels
has lived in Houston, Cambridge, and Las Vegas. Currently, he splits his time between Istanbul and Los Angeles, where he is an editor at Les Figues Press. He has held fellowships from Poets & Writers and the Black Mountain Institute. His writing can be found in VOLT, Witness, Fence, Tammy Journal, Faultline, Los Angeles Review of Books, Jacket2, Literary Hub, and Colorado Review, among others. Semi Circle, a chapbook of his translations of the Turkish poet Nurduran Duman, was published by Goodmorning Menagerie in 2016. His first book, published by 1913 Press, is A Turkish Dictionary.

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