Friday, May 21, 2004

that lovely angela rawlings reviewed a packet of above/ground press items on her blog recently (when im done alla this tour, perhaps ill have time to do same for someone else). the original appeared at

a writer herself, she has work all over the web, from her website. heres her review in full:

april 15, 2004
above/ground: a rooftop review

Today's mail delivered a package from above/ground press (Ottawa). Its neon contents included chapbooks by David Fujino, Max Middle, Shane Plante, and rob mclennan; issues of STANZAS magazine (derek beaulieu and J. L. Jacobs work showcased); and broadsides featuring poetry by Suzannah Showler, Tim Conley, Anita Dolman, Steven Heighton, Meghan Jackson, Lisa Samuels, Claudia Lapp, and Louis Cabri.

Of the mass of work, here's what excited me:

David Fujino's new chapbook Ordinary Glasses included one poem called "the untitled", a full page of partial words interrupted by mathematical and code symbols (+=|\) and space bubbles that seem to be fighting for breath amidst the crowding confusion of broken words and symbols. A fun piece, challenging the reader to perform it vocally and calling into question how we form meaning from phonemes.

Reading "the untitled", I'm curious to know if David has experimented with this style of poetry or if this is a once-off deal. Here's hoping it's not the only try. I could imagine repeated attempts with this style, similar to Ted Berrigan's various attempts at cut-up sonnets. With repeated attempts, I could imagine David creating a quintessential poem akin to Berrigan's Sonnet XXXVII, a poem that offers an excellent example of the athletic process of creating this particular style of poetry. As it is, "the untitled" as a concept intrigues the hell out of me, and could be a useful example of how one might experiment with meaning in a poem, but as is this offering has me impatient for other similar pieces -- no Eureka! here, yet.

Meghan Jackson's broadside "nesting shelf" is a concise, repetitive poem that's low on vocabulary and high on rhythm and timing. This is my favourite of the day. It has a Bjorkian sensibility of curious image woven together with a funky beat. For your reading pleasure, "nesting shelf", in its entirety:

i collect
and braid
seven feathers
six branches
five feet of brown string
four pieces of carbon paper
three blades of rye grass
two handfuls of dryer lint

for one bird
one bird
braid for one bird
sitting plaster
on the wood shelf
where i nest

the one bird
braided above me
braiding the nest
for the one bird

You know that feeling you get when you listen to or watch a performer who's a little nervous -- that feeling where you root for the performer not to fuck it up? Well, that doesn't apply here; Meghan's in control of this one from start to finish. "nesting shelf" is a good exercise in remixing a little to play a lot. Solid, metered pace as a result of line and stanza break choices. Unique subject. Good stuff.

To get your hands on this work or other above/ground ephemera, contact rob mclennan. Google him; he's out there.

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