amongst books

amongst books

Thursday, August 14, 2008

happy 15th birthday above/ground press

as above/ground press emerged from its underground lair, these are the songs that were playing in 1993:

I’m Every Woman, Whitney Houston
Whoomp! (There It Is), Tag Team
Boom! Shake The Room, DJ Jazzy Jeff and Fresh Prince
Rump Shaker, Wreckx-N-Effect
Livin' On The Edge, Aerosmith
come celebrate this evening at the Ottawa Art Gallery, 2 Daley Ave; doors open 7pm; reading starts at 7:30pm. Featured readers are Amanda Earl (me!) & Pearl Pirie.
if you don’t already subscribe to above/ground press, you should. for $40 a year you receive all the press publishes: chapbooks & broadsides by emerging & established writers such as derek beaulieu, Douglas Barbour, Pete Smith, Gregory Betts, Pearl Pirie, Marcus McCann, Rhonda Douglas, Sandra Ridley, Catherine Owen, Natalie Simpson, George Bowering, Eric Folsom, Christine Stewart, Phil Hall, William Hawkins, Margaret Christakos, rob mclennan, Andy Weaver, Jesse Ferguson, Nicholas Lea, Lea Graham, Max Middle, Jessica Smith, John Newlove, Stephanie Bolster, Stan Rogal, Gil McElroy, Jennifer Mulligan, Sharon Harris, Jan Allen, bpNichol, ryan fitzpatrick, Julia Williams, Shauna McCabe, Jordan Scott, Barry McKinnon, Cath Morris, Karen Clavelle, Wanda O'Connor, Kate Greenstreet, Fred Wah, Anita Dolman, Stephen Brockwell, Mari-Lou Rowley, Monty Reid, Rachel Zolf, Gwendolyn Guth, Rob Budde, and still more!

8 years ago, when i first became involved in Ottawa’s literary scene, it was those colourful broadsheets on tables at readings or handed to me by rob that sparked my interest in contemporary poetry. i was studying & reading works by people like Sylvia Plath and Rumi, but wasn’t that aware of the writings of contemporary living poets. the publications of above/ground press interested me at the time because they didn’t seem to pay attention to the rules i was learning in the poetry workshop i was taking. and yet they were powerful poems that stuck with me, such as the poems in Jan Allen’s Personal Peripherals, an excerpt of which was published by above/ground press and then published as a collection by Buschek Books in 2006.

i often discover writers for the first time thru above/ground press & then end up buying their full collections. some of my prized possessions are above/ground press chapbooks, including Chap-poems by d.g. jones (2002); Rushes by kate greenstreet (2007), Calendar Girls by Leah Graham (2006), Ordinary Glasses by David Fujino (2004) ...there are too many to list here. the point is that it’s thanks to above/ground press that i’ve been exposed to folks that aren’t standard issue poetry, reprinted in every anthology since A.M. Klein’s day.

it’s small presses like above/ground that spend money they don’t have, beg borrow or steal photocopies to produce them, use any & all possible means to get them into the hands of readers who will appreciate them. oh, naysayers complain about the fact that the publications are stapled and folded without any fancy pants methods, but these are the presses that take chance on new writers & help them get the exposure they need to be published by the larger (still called small) presses such as Coach House or Mercury. i don't give a rat's ass about whether a writer is published on gilded paper, with or without spine. that's not what makes the work good. it's all about the writing & the risk the writers are willing to take in their work.

so happy birthday to above/ground press, now a bad ass high schooler at 15.
i expect great things.

1 comment:

Mark McCawley said...


Editor/Publisher, Greensleeve Editions.