rob mclennan

Episode 55: Interview with Dessa Bayrock, Post Ghost Press

Recorded on February 23, 2020

Aaron asks about the design and format of PGP microchapbooks and zines. Dessa talks about keeping them small for mailing, poetry socks, sticker broadsides. Amanda mentions Warren Dean Fulton’s photo booth poetry project through Pooka Press.

Dessa Bayrock lives in Ottawa with two cats and a variety of succulents, one of which occasionally blooms. She used to fold and unfold paper for a living at Library and Archives Canada, and is currently a PhD student in English, where she continues to fold and unfold paper. Her work has appeared in Funicular, PRISM, and Poetry Is Dead, among others, and her work was recently shortlisted for the Metatron Prize for Rising Authors. She is the editor of post ghost press. You can find her, or at least more about her, at, or on Twitter at @yodessa.

We speak to Dessa about her press, postghostpress, an Ottawa-based micropress, the joys of being able to carry poetry in a pocket and how that inspired her to create the press. We discuss pockets and Venn diagrams. Aaron asks about the difference between digital poetry and poems in the pocket.

Aaron asks what inspired the name “Post Ghost Press”? Dessa talks about her experience working at Library and Archives Canada, sorting World War I soldiers’ files for a digitization project, and a nightmare she had about a soldier.

We discuss the need to inform authors before posting their work on line as a publisher. We talk about creative non fiction and short forms.

Dessa talks about the meditative nature of putting together the chapbooks and the zine, old magazines and textbooks she uses for the backgrounds, and how the work inspires the choice of background. Work that doesn’t lend itself well to this type of design isn’t published. Amanda talks about writing with visual in mind. Dessa will ask writers what they envision for the design. Amanda mentions her loathing of Arial font.

Aaron asks about using media other than paper for the press. Dessa talks about seeing poetry in surprising places. The press’s mantra is that it can put poems everywhere. Amanda mentions needing collaborations between artists. Dessa talks about a project relating to tarot cards.

Aaron wants local coffee shops to put poems on their take out cups. Dessa wants to put short stories on beer cans and urges brewers to get in on it. Amanda reminds listeners that she writes about tea a lot and would have a few poems that aren’t P.G. available.

We talk about Small Poems for the Masses, a zine with 5 issues so far. Dessa talks about the zine being like a poem house party. Amanda asks for someone to do anthologies with contributions unbound. Dessa quotes Alice Munro. Dessa talks about the tarot project and how different cards with poem fragments would interact to form different poems.

Dessa talks about Kanika Lawton’s Monster (Girl) Theory, one of the microchapbooks published by PGP.

Dessa talks about how receptive and delighted people are about the press and the work.

Aaron tries to unfold Monster (Girl) Theory and we listen. We discuss ASMR?, initialisms vs acronyms.

We ask Dessa what the challenges of running PGP are. She mentions not having enough time.

Meanwhile Aaron keeps trying to fold up the chapbook.

Dessa talks about her Patreon subscribers and how patient they are.

Dessa has been inspired by The Blasted Tree, Kyle Flemmer. Amanda mentions her Vispo Bible chapbook, John, which she loves. Amanda also mentions Puddles of Sky and Michael Casteels.

Amanda mentions the Ottawa Zine Off and zines. Dessa talks about her dream projects and wishes she had more time to work on them. We talk about how great the poetry socks were. Amanda reminisces about how much everyone loved the socks at the John Newlove Poetry Award. Other possibilities: t-shirts, tea bag tags. Amanda mentions Alixandra Bamford’s Tasseomancy:

Dessa mentions resin casting for words to make dice. We discuss materiality and digital vs physical creation. Dessa is more comfortable with tactile form.

Aaron asks how publishing others inspires Dessa’s own writing. She says she writes less but better. We all talk about how being an editor affected our own writing. Aaron asks about current projects. Dessa talks about a collaborative project with a friend. Amanda asks about small press fairs. Dessa mentions the Magical Girl Market at the Shaw Centre on June 27.

Thanks to Dessa, to Charles for the processing, to Jennifer Pederson for the intro and outro and to you for listening. Stay tuned for a new episode soon!

Episode 53- Interview with Ellen Chang-Richardson

Episode 53: The Small Machine Talks

with a.m. kozak and Amanda Earl

Interview with Ellen Chang-Richardson

Recorded on Sunday, December 8, 2019, 2pm

Ellen Chang-Richardson is an emerging poet, writer and copyeditor based in Ottawa & Toronto. Recipient of the 2019 Vallum Award for Poetry, her work has appeared or is forthcoming in publications such as Ricepaper Magazine, my (small press) writing day, the Lit Mag Love Anthology 1: Blood & Water, Coven Editions: Grimoire and the Hart House Review. Ellen is the founder of Little Birds Poetry, an editing workshop for poets and creative writers. Her first chapbook, Unlucky Fours, is forthcoming this spring with Anstruther Press.

We talk with Ellen Chang-Richardson about her poetry and Little Birds Poetry, the editing process, format, guiding principles, working on paper vs digital, strategies on dealing with uncomfortable situations, plans for future workshops and how editing others work contributes to her own writing.


Meltwater Basin in LitMag Love’s Blood and Water

anthology (pp123-125 ) and

Ricepaper Magazine,

thanks to Charles Earl (processing), Ellen, a.m. kozak, Jennifer Pederson (intro/outro composer) and all of you for listening and sharing the podcast.

Have a good end of 2019 and a happy new year!

Episode 47: Interview with Anita Dolman and James K. Moran

Poet, editor and writer Anita Dolman is the author of Lost Enough: A collection of short stories (Morning Rain Publishing, 2017), and co-editor of Motherhood in Precarious Times (Demeter Press, 2018), an international anthology of poetry and non-fiction. Her poetry and fiction have appeared in numerous journals, magazines and anthologies, including Another Dysfunctional Cancer Poem Anthology, Canadian Ginger, Hamilton Arts & Letters, Arc Poetry Magazine, On Spec, Grain, PRISM international, The Antigonish Review, and Triangulation: Lost Voices. She is the author of two poetry chapbooks, and was a finalist for the 2015 Alberta Magazine Award for fiction. Dolman is a contributing editor for Arc Poetry Magazine, and was interim Arts editor for This Magazine’s upcoming September issue.

Ottawa author James K. Moran’s speculative fiction and poetry have appeared in Canadian, American and British publications including Icarus, On Spec and Glitterwolf. His poetry recently appeared in Another Dysfunctional Cancer Poem Anthology (Mansfield Press) and Bywords,ca. Moran’s articles have appeared via CBC Radio, Daily Xtra and Rue Morgue. 

In 2012, he founded the Little Workshop of Horrors, an Ottawa-based writers’ group that carves speculative and literary work into the shape it is meant to be. Moran also runs Queer Speculations, a writers’ group that workshops queer-themed stories from far and wide. Town & Train (Lethe Press, 2014) is Moran’s debut horror novel. He blogs at Right now, he is likely at work, editing his second horror novel.

We talk about James and Anita’s first meeting, their relationship to each other’s writing and how it has evolved over the years, balance between writing, making money and child raising, the benefits of both being writers, dealing with rejections, procrastination, the writing life, doing readings together,  the arbitrary labelling of genre vs. literature, being open to genre, writing speculative fiction, featuring at writers’ conferences, ego. I ask for advice for other couples who are writers and James suggests it’s best to know each other as writers first, the importance of being honest with one another and not taking criticism personally. Anita talks about the competition for writers due to the grant system, the scarcity model of industries like writing.

We talk about books and reading, mutual and different interests. We talk about how their son relates to them as writers and about his love of reading and the books James and Anita passed on to him because of their own love for the books when they were his age.

I ask whether either one of them write speculative stuff into their poetry. I ask about their current projects.


Confluence –

Dorothea Brande – Becoming A Writer

Arc Poetry Magazine:

World of Tea

Amber Dawn

The Word Balloon Podcast

Cornwall & Area Pop Event

Thanks to Anita and James, to Charles for processing the episode, for Jennifer Pederson for the intro and outro and to you for listening. Please share the link to the episode. Stay tuned for a new episode soon!

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