Episode 93: above/ground press


Guest Poetry Journal

Touch the Donkey


Tuesday Poem, Dusie

the book of smaller by rob mclennan

rob mclennan

i talk to rob mclennan about the press, how it has changed since he began it in 1993. we talk about why chapbooks are good forms of publication. We discuss the subscription service.

rob addresses all the mailouts by hand. we discuss the various series that are part of the press: Stanzas, Peter F. Yacht Club, Guest, Touch the Donkey, the Report from Series.

We discuss the online magazines, such as Ottawater and Poetics.ca, followed by 17 Seconds and Periodicities.

We discuss the Factory Reading Series, its beginnings and plans for a return.

We talk about taverns.

I bring up the book of smaller, rob’s latest poetry book. I ask about rob’s engagement with other writers’ works. we also discuss the way the work was created and the rhythms of the work based on how much time rob had while taking care of his young children. I ask about his current projects.

I ask about forthcoming above/ground press chapbooks.

I ask him if he has any advice for those considering starting a small press.

rob has a few things planned for the 30th anniversary of above/ground press.

Note of Praise

above/ground press is a gargantuan effort that has been a mainstay for not just the Ottawa literary community but the Canadian and North American communities too. It has been such a presence for so long that it is easy to take the work that rob does for granted. rob mclennan is a diligent and faithful servant to literature. As the sole editor for the press, he manages to publish a big batch of chapbooks every year, along with all the other work he does. The catalogue is full of eclectic work from emerging and established writers. I have learned of many writers that have ended up being great influences of my own writing, such as Robert Kroetsch, Dennis Cooley, Amy Dennis, and more. Companion interview series add additional engagement with writers and small press publishers. rob mclennan is a great contributor to literature as a writer and publisher. I simply can’t imagine my own writing life being as invigorating and informed if he didn’t do what he does.

Thank you to rob for being on the show, to Jennifer Pederson for the intro and outro, to Charles Earl for processing and to you for listening to and sharing the episodes each month.

Stay tuned for future episodes with Beir Bua, Ethel Zine, and Hem Press in 2022, plus another episode in our ongoing poetics series in December, and a whole new thread I’ll announce later for 2023.