Monday, October 20, 2014

The Factory Reading Series pre-small press book fair reading, November 7, 2014: Baker, Dolman, Boyle, Currie + Ross

span-o (the small press action network - ottawa) presents:

The Factory Reading Series

pre-small press book fair reading

featuring readings by:

Jennifer Baker (Ottawa)
Anita Dolman (Ottawa)
Frances Boyle (Ottawa)
Dave Currie (Ottawa)
+ Stuart Ross (Coburg)
lovingly hosted by rob mclennan
Friday, November 7, 2014;
doors 7pm; reading 7:30pm
The Carleton Tavern,
223 Armstrong Street (at Parkdale; upstairs)

Jennifer Baker
was raised in Exeter, Ontario, where she divided her time between town and her grandparents' farm. She is currently a part-time professor and PhD candidate at the University of Ottawa. Her new chapbook, her first, is Abject Lessons (above/ground press).


Anita Dolman is an Ottawa-based writer and editor. Her poetry and fiction have appeared throughout Canada and the United States, including, most recently, in On Spec: the Canadian magazine of the fantastic, Grain, Bywords.ca, The Antigonish Review, ottawater and Geist. Her short story “Happy Enough” is available as an e-novella from Morning Rain Publishing (2014). Follow Anita on Twitter @ajdolman. Her second poetry chapbook is Where No One Can See You (AngelHousePress, 2014).

Frances Boyle [photo credit: John W. MacDonald] is originally from Regina, and maintains a yearning for both the prairies and the west coast where she lived for a number of years. She is the author of Light-carved Passages (BuschekBooks, 2014) and the chapbook Portal Stones, winner of Tree Press’s chapbook contest. Among other awards, she’s received the Diana Brebner Prize, and first place in This Magazine’s Great Canadian Literary Hunt for poetry (with third place for fiction in the same year). Her poetry and short stories have appeared in Canadian and American literary magazines, both print and online, and anthologies on subjects from Hitchcock to form poetry to mother/daughter relationships. She serves on Arc Poetry Magazine’s editorial board.

Dave Currie’s Birds Facts is forthcoming from Apt. 9 Press, a sentence that fill him with bashful joy and quiet disbelief. His plays have been produced at the Ottawa Fringe Festival, Carleton University, Algonquin College and at small venues across the province. His origins in theatre transitioned into opportunities in television and film, most of which he accepted, performed adequately and then squandered.

He is currently working on a new play entitled “Clone-Hitler Goes To The Beach” set to be performed in 2015 and a film script simply entitled “Women.” His fiction will be available in magazines – some day.

Dave Currie is not now nor has he ever been a dog.

Stuart Ross published his first literary pamphlet on the photocopier in his dad’s office one night in 1979. Through the 1980s, he stood on Toronto’s Yonge Street wearing signs like “Writer Going To Hell,” selling over 7,000 poetry and fiction chapbooks. He is a founding member of the Meet the Presses collective, and is editor at Mansfield Press. He is the author of two collaborative novels, two story collections, eight poetry books, and the novel Snowball, Dragonfly, Jew. He has also published an essay collection, Confessions of a Small Press Racketeer, and co-edited Rogue Stimulus: The Stephen Harper Holiday Anthology for a Prorogued Parliament. His most recent poetry book is Our Days in Vaudeville (Mansfield Press), collaborations with 29 other poets from across Canada. Stuart has had three chapbooks published this year: Nice Haircut, Fiddlehead (Puddles of Sky Press), A Pretty Good Year (Nose in Book Publishing) and In In My Dream (Bookthug). Stuart is a member of the improvisational noise trio Donkey Lopez, whose first CD is Juan Lonely Night. He lives in Cobourg, Ontario.

[And don’t forget the 20th anniversary of the ottawa small press book fair, being held the following day at the Jack Purcell Community Centre]

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Chaudiere Books Launch with Roland Prevost, Amanda Earl and Monty Reid

Chaudiere Books Launch with Roland Prevost, Amanda Earl and Monty Reid
Hosted by rob mclennan
Ottawa International Writers Festival

Monday October 27, 8pm
Free event
Fox and Feather, 2nd Floor • 283 Elgin St.

For further information on this event, and other events in this year's Ottawa International Writers Festival, click here:
      
Ottawa’s Chaudiere Books was recently relaunched by rob mclennan and new co-publisher Christine McNair, and the Writers Festival is proud to be launching their 2014 poetry titles.

A riotous assemblage of long poems focusing on the crazy years of 1920s Montparnasse—a melting pot of artists and poets. Amanda Earl’s Kiki plays with language and form, taking the familiar first-person format of journaling to streams of language to snippets of visual imagery to present the wildness of those years, focusing on the persona of Kiki de Montparnasse, a maverick who—much like the poems presented here—cut across intellectual and artistic boundaries. Sexy and smart. Read more...  

An incisive and playful first book exploring language and space, Singular Plurals presents us with fictive—often surreal—images encapsulated in text that is layered in meaning, playful with language and polyphonous in tone. The poems explore the irregular spaces and tangential lines that separate and connect us, sometimes by gazing from a great distance, then zooming in for the close-up shot. Roland Prevost is a winner of Bywords’ John Newlove Poetry Award and a self-described “explorer of here/now’s edge.” Singular Plurals is his first full-length book of poetry.  Read more...

Garden is a cycling and recycling meditation on the garden, its edges and ecologies, throughout an entire calendar year. Award-winning poet and under-performing gardener Monty Reid explores and reinvigorates the possibilities of poetic meditation over twelve full months of his home garden in Ottawa’s east end. Read more...

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Kate Hargreaves, Leak



SPLINTER

Windsor splints me. Splints shins—feet bat-battering asphalt cracks thud thud thwack thwack thwack thwack shoelace plastic tip clipping concrete. thfooooo—exhale fast against damp armpit air. Pause one foot on pavement, other shoe rolling over ants and grass and woodchips two feet from dog shit sizzle in the haze. thhoooo—exhale re-tie loop over around and through, tie the ears together and tap toe towards sneaker end. Stand. Sweat slips between vertebrae, over spine juts like waterfall rocks—slish slide slim. On feet and level with horse heads over sparse hedge over-pruned by ninety-five degree weeks and days, nights of dry roots, brown branches, crisp. Rind warming in racer-back lines, heat-dying Friday afternoon onto shoulders arms and calves. Out and back: laterals around perambulator pushers and camera couples pausing to snap the elephant and her babies. thfoooooothfoooooooo—hard breaths in time with glitter on the wet streets calves and quads suck blood and O2 from head spinning and concrete clumps cling to clay soles. Windsor sticks to my sneakers, sod, cement, gum, cast-iron eggs and birds catch on my laces. thfooooooo—exhale, and scuff rubber on road, to scrape off stones, cedar chips, Tim Horton’s cups and spare change. Shin splints. Cable-knit air chokes my out-breath. thf—bronze base casts over my shoes. Drags me toward river railings and drills toes into sod. Headphones pumping dance dance dance till your dead at path-side. Playlist over. Riverside runner: artist unknown. Bronze, textile and sports tape. Splint into the soil.

Windsor, Ontario poet Kate Hargreaves’ first trade poetry collection, Leak (Toronto ON: BookThug, 2014), is striking for the sounds she generates, allowing the language to roll and toss and spin in a fantastic display of gymnastic aural play so strong one can’t help but hear the words leap off the page. Utilizing repetition, a variety of rhythms and homonyms, Hargreaves’ poems mine the relationship between language and the body, and rush and bounce like water through seven suite-sections: “Heap,” “Chew,” “Skim,” “Pore,” “Chip,” and “Peel.” As she writes to open the poem “HIP TO BE SQUARE”: “Her hips sink ships. Her hips just don’t swing. Her hips fit snugly in skinny jeans. Her calves won’t squeeze in. Her hips check.” She manages to make the clumsy, awkward and graceful tweaks and movements of the body into an entirely physical act of language, bouncing across the page as a rich sequence of gestures. Given the fact that she also published a collection of short fiction, Talking Derby: Stories from a Life on Eight Wheels (Windsor ON: Black Moss Press, 2012), “a collection of prose vignettes inspired by women’s flat-track roller derby,” this writer and roller derby skater’s ability to articulate text in such an inspired and physical way shouldn’t be entirely unexpected, but the fact that it is done so well is something of a marvel.




PORE

She pores.
She pores over her psychology textbook.
She pores over the late-night pita menu.
She pours water over tea steeps and pours.
She pore-reduces. She scours.
She scrubs.
She pores over her blackheads in the mirror.
She skins.
She skins her ankle with a dollar-store pink plastic razor.
She nicks.
She grazes.
She snacks at half-hour intervals throughout the day: trail-mix,
      dried cranberries, arugula, celery.
She scans the fridge for leftover spinach.
She pours olive oil and vinegar on lima bean salad.
She pours oil on troubled waters.
She waters the daffodils.
She never rains.
She showers.
She buzzes her head.
She hums.
She drones.
She counts. She sorts.
She: out of sorts.
She’s out on a limb.
She limps.
She wilts.
She droops.
She drips coffee on the floor.
She sips.
She slips on wet tiles.
She sinks.


Friday, October 17, 2014

'Poet pushes together fragments in new book'

I had a little article on my Ottawa book launch for If suppose we are a fragment (BuschekBooks) in Carleton University's weekly paper, The Charletan, recently.

For the sake of full disclosure, I include the text of the little interview the writer of the article, Phelisha Cassup, conducted with me, via email:


1. How did you chose the title? What inspired it? Is there any specific moment or story that it was derived from?

I’m not completely sure where the title of If suppose we are a fragment originated. It sounded good when rolled off the tongue, and on the page as well. Given that it was composed during a very early period in my relationship with my now-wife, the poet Christine McNair, one might make speculations on the nature of the fragment, and how relationships are about pieces slowly fitting together into each other.

2. What advice do you have to aspiring writers/journalists?

Just write. To aspire means nothing until you do.

Also, read as much and as widely as possible. Edits and revision are essential, but only after the first draft. Be fearless, but never reckless. Listen to the parts of you that aren’t often acknowledged. Be open to ideas that might not make sense at first, or at all to anyone else. And be patient: any craft takes years and some thousands of hours to perfect. You don’t have to solve it all in one day, or even one year.

3. Do you have any current projects on the go?

Multiple. I’m currently attempting to complete a manuscript of short stories, as well as a poetry collection. I’m also editing a selected poems by the Perth, Ontario poet Phil Hall, who is currently writer-in-residence at the University of Ottawa.

4. What was the hardest part of creating this work?

After twenty-plus years of writing full time, the work ethic is there, the patience is there, and the attention is there. The hardest part? Often, the hardest part is attempting to find a home for completed manuscripts. Publishing has shifted over the past decade or so, away from taking chances on riskier works and seriously reducing the possibilities for sales across the country (the reduction in bookstores and reviewing meaning fewer books are receiving any attention at all). It is making it hard for a great many of us to find publishers.

5. Is it hard to balance family, your new baby (Congrats again!!), with writing?

Thanks much! Balance is always a tricky thing, whether considering relationships, employment, schooling or anything else. This past year has been an enormous shift, certainly, going from full days of work to half-days, trading time with Christine until her maternity leave ends. Once she goes back to work, I’ll be attempting to carve writing spaces over the next few years around the occasional childcare, the uncertainty of naps and my own exhaustion.

6. What makes this piece unique from others?

Itself.

7. Where can your works be purchased?

I’ve a number of works available for online sale at https://alllitup.ca, and most of my publishers each have websites where one can purchase books. Failing that, one can simply visit my table at the semi-annual Ottawa small press book fair in November. The twentieth anniversary edition of the fair occurs on Saturday, November 8, 2014 on the second floor of the Jack Purcell Community Centre on Elgin Street. Otherwise, one can always send me an email at rob_mclennan@hotmail.com and we can do something more directly.

8. Any other things you want the students of Carleton to know/ read?

The In/Words Reading Series, run through Carleton University’s In/Words Magazine and Press, is perhaps the most fun reading series currently in town. For information on any and all Ottawa literary information, including readings, book fairs, calls for submissions and other such notices, one should constantly be paying attention to www.bywords.ca


Thursday, October 16, 2014

12 or 20 (small press) questions with Amanda McCormick on Ink Press

Ink Press Productions letterpress prints books, broadsides, and other art. We hand-make journals and other paper goods out of found materials. Our main goal stems from the human need to create. IPP was founded by Amanda McCormick, with close help from Tracy Dimond and Juliannah Harrison.

inkpressproductions.com

1 – When did Ink Press first start? How have your original goals as a publisher shifted since you started, if at all? And what have you learned through the process?
Ink Press began with espresso ink, a literary journal I founded in 2009. When I moved to Baltimore in 2012, I met Tracy Dimond who founded a writing workshop called Gin & Ink. We bonded over our vision for art with community.

In 2012 we decided to partner to create, Ink Press Productions: a multi-leveled project committed to building community and delivering affordable-handmade art to the public.

Together we have learned that the most limited resource we have is time.

2 – What first brought you to publishing?
When I was younger, I wanted to be a journalist so I became the editor of my high school newspaper, Paw Print. Since then, I have consistently been involved in the printing & distribution of books. I have come to want to know what books can be rather than try to prescribe what they are.

3 – What do you consider the role and responsibilities, if any, of small publishing?
Engage in the collective dialogue by supporting each other and DON’T be boring!

4 – What do you see your press doing that no one else is?
We’re not boring—haha jk. There are a lot of great independent presses out there doing amazing things. I can’t pin down what makes us different—maybe it is that we are operated by Tracy Dimond & Amanda McCormick? There are no other versions of us in the world.

5 – What do you see as the most effective way to get new chapbooks out into the world?
There are so many ways to get books out into the world. The first one and maybe most important is to do it! Make it happen and don’t consider your limitations. Everyone has limitations just like everyone has abilities. As a publisher I was lucky to find a collection of people who are interested in me and my artistic vision. Likewise, they have their own artistic goals. I realize how important it is for people to cooperate in life and art. In that way, I’d say the best way to get a book out into the world is to plant an idea and let it grown with the people around you & find more seeds: make the process fun and meaningful and build it in an environment that is generous and grateful.

6 – How involved an editor are you? Do you dig deep into line edits, or do you prefer more of a light touch?
The type of editor I am depends a lot on the situation. Sometimes I like to dig deep and work close with the write and their work. Other times, like in the case of the chapbook contest, I am looking for something that leaves me speechless (in a good way).

7 – How do your books and broadsides get distributed? What are your usual print runs?
We mostly distribute hand-to-hand at readings or events or through Internet sales. We do not have a set number of books to print but we are interested in the exclusivity of smaller runs. Having limited resources plays into how we create but we welcome that challenge.

8 – How many other people are involved with editing or production? Do you work with other editors, and if so, how effective do you find it? What are the benefits, drawbacks?
Tracy and I both work very intricately on most projects. We also have regular input from other artists, our friends in Baltimore. Plus, our publishing process is in collaboration with the writer. There are great benefits to publishing handmade books as a team—in fact, I could and would not want to do it if I didn’t have the people I have to do it with. It challenges me to compromise but that is not a drawback.

9– How has being an editor/publisher changed the way you think about your own writing?
Being a publisher has changed the way I view my own writing in the same way that the my daily activities influence my writing—I can hardly remember a time I was interested in writing without also being interested in book-making and publishing. From that, the benefit of working closely with other talented and ambitious writers is that they inspire me and I get to take that inspiration to my own writing and art.

10– How do you approach the idea of publishing your own writing? Some, such as Gary Geddes when he still ran Cormorant, refused such, yet various Coach House Press’ editors had titles during their tenures as editors for the press, including Victor Coleman and bpNichol. What do you think of the arguments for or against, or do you see the whole question as irrelevant?
I am totally for DIY publishing! It is empowering and gives you a freedom to do as you please with your work. We’ve published my chapbook and Tracy’s book, but we also love opportunities we have to work with other writers. We didn’t publish either of our books for the sake of publishing, but rather because they were strong conceptual projects that we wanted total creative control over. Unlike anything, I see DIY publishing as a conceptual gesture to move away from the institutionalization of art: it is important for artists to know that they aren’t obligated to be legitimized through an establishment. That said, I also think it is important to connect with other people that you admire in independent publishing and putting my writing in the hands of another publisher is a great way to do that. Yes! Publish my book! Submitting work to another press is a way to say “I care enough about what you are doing to trust my writing with you.”

11– How do you see Ink Press evolving?

It is hard to see how Ink Press Productions will evolve even in the coming year. I feel all we can do at this point, with our resources, is keep it up and do our best to work toward a sustainable future.

I would like to see IPP become an organization that supports art and provides a source of security for people devoted to a life of creating.

12– What, as a publisher, are you most proud of accomplishing? What do you think people have overlooked about your publications? What is your biggest frustration?

As a publisher, the thing I am most proud of accomplishing is the connections I have built with others artists of similar missions. Of course I am proud of our books and the events that we hold, but all of those things are nothing without the people involved.

Time is the most frustrating resource. Tracy and I both have jobs and are going to school, so we’re very careful to not overload our publishing schedule. We have big plans to build up Ink Press Productions, but we have to acquire capital and credibility in order to grow.

14– How does Ink Press work to engage with your immediate literary community, and community at large? What journals or presses do you see Ink Press in dialogue with? How important do you see those dialogues, those conversations?
Hmmm, this is a tough question. I feel like everything we do is an attempt to engage with the literary community, both immediate and extended. We use our artistic gestures to be a part of a conversation centered in many of the things I’ve already been talking about. I suppose the most direct connects we have are through the project-based collaborations we do with other presses. For example, this past spring we partnered with sunnyoutside press to put on an event producing the “2-Hour Chapbook” for the Buffalo Small Press Fair. Currently, we are working with jmww to create a handmade edition of their chapbook contest winner. This fall, we are partnering with EMP, a local arts collective, to build a workshop series focused on writing and handmade books.

15– Do you hold regular or occasional readings or launches? How important do you see public readings and other events?
We try to have a launch event for every book we publish. We like to celebrate our accomplishments! In addition, we do a number of readings and events. We are interested in exploring how we can create something innovative and artistic in a space for the public to be involved. We want people to be proud of what they create, so we strive to add it to a public. So yes, any public event is important for the press.

16– How do you utilize the internet, if at all, to further your goals?

We use the Internet for sales and promotions. We’re still trying to navigate the internet side – handmade art encourages someone to feel it’s body. The internet works best for visual and audio work, but we have been able to stay connected with people through the internet.

17– Do you take submissions? If so, what aren’t you looking for?
We only open submissions for particular projects. Otherwise, we publish books mostly through solicitation of writers we know and admire. When someone approaches us directly, we will always consider their work. We ask that they email us the project.

18– Tell me about three of your most recent titles, and why they’re special.
I’m Just Happy To Be Here by Mark Cugini: We met Mark a few years ago. He asked if we would consider his manuscript. After he emailed it to us, we knew we wanted it. His poems are a poetry party in a Staten Island duplex, but they are also full of sincerity. He strikes a beautiful balance.

Work Ethic by Tim Paggi: We are in the MFA in Creative Writing & Publishing Arts program at the University of Baltimore with Tim. Both of us loved his writing from the first workshop we had together, so we talked about soliciting a chapbook from him. The discussion of despair and hope, through neon and food imagery, drew us in. We felt we could make a beautiful book with him and were overjoyed that he agreed before his manuscript was even finished.

espresso ink V : A literary anthology on CD. This was a really fun project because it was something that we never attempted before and it involved so many people. We took some of our ideas about community and performance and combined them into a handmade / letterpressed CD and ‘lyric book.’

12 or 20 (small press) questions;

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

above/ground press: 2015 subscriptions now available!

Twenty-one years and counting. Can you believe it? There's been a ton of activity over the past year around above/ground press, from the rebuilding of Chaudiere Books (the trade extension, one might say, of above/ground) to the founding of the poetry journal Touch the Donkey (included as part of the above/ground press subscription!). Just what else might happen? Current and forthcoming items include works by Kate Schapira, Gil McElroy, Jennifer Baker, Gregory Betts, Stephen Brockwell and Kemeny Babineau (2014) and Elizabeth Robinson (2015), as well as a whole slew of publications that haven't even been decided on yet.

2015 annual subscriptions are now available: $50 (in the United States, $50 US; $80 international) for everything above/ground press makes from now until the end of 2015, including chapbooks, broadsheets, The Peter F. Yacht Club and Touch the Donkey (have you been keeping track of the array of interviews posted to the site?).

Anyone who subscribes before November 1st will also receive the last above/ground press package (or two) of 2014, including those exciting new titles by derek beaulieu, Kate Schapira, Jennifer Baker, Kemeny Babineau, Gregory Betts and Gil McElroy (plus whatever else the press happens to produce before the turn of the new year).

Why wait? You can either send a cheque (payable to rob mclennan) to 2423 Alta Vista Drive, Ottawa, Ontario K1H 7M9, or utilize whichever paypal button that applies to you:

Canadian subscriptions:

American subscriptions:

International subscriptions:

And keep checking notices for The Factory Reading Series. There’s so much more to come.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The Examined Space, by rob mclennan : Ottawa Magazine,



I had a back-page piece in the September issue of Ottawa Magazine, solicited by Dayanti Karunaratne, that I am extremely happy with, on Centretown, history and neighbourhoods. In case you didn’t happen to see such on newsstands, I reprint (with permission) here:

Ottawa Journal |by rob mclennan
The Examined Space

I’ve lived in Ottawa long enough to appreciate the layers that exist in the city, and long enough to become bored with the repeated self-designation of sleepy government town. One has to know where to look. Perhaps during such a period of urban development is the best time to re-think a self-portrait. The unexamined space, one might paraphrase, ain’t worth living in.

The bulk of my twenty-five years — in some half-dozen houses — have been in Centretown, and I’ve long been aware of the former lots granted to Colonel John By and William Stewart, which were part of the central core of what was once a Victorian town of lumber and rail. Before that, this was the site of some hundreds of years of native settlement, exploration, and travel. Montreal Road, for example, is quite literally the road to Montreal, and lies on the trails First Nations peoples established as they travelled back and forth between what wasn’t yet Ottawa to what wasn’t yet Montreal.

To live in any space or landscape, one should at least make some attempt to understanding it, both as a current entity and a historical one. There were the riots that regularly began between Irish Shiners and French in Bytown throughout the early part of the 19th Century, culminating in the infamous Stoney Monday Riot of 1849. For their own safety, the police wouldn’t interfere with most of these fights until they began to threaten the more expensive neighbourhoods further east beyond Lowertown. Imagine: in 1845, we were the most dangerous city in the Commonwealth. From these events, we remember Joseph Monferrand, who later became known as Big Joe Mufferaw, the legendary hulk of a man waist-deep in a number of those battles.

The bulk of Centretown is the former Lot F, picked up by Colonel By in 1834, with the southern stretch picked up by William Stewart, where he and his wife eventually created Stewarton, with streets his wife Catherine named for their children: Ann (later renamed Gladstone), Catherine, McLeod, and Isabella. To understand a space is to understand what it has come through. There is the used bookstore at Bank and Frank streets that housed a punk club beneath, back in the 1970s. There is the former theatre still known as Barrymore’s that every so often someone inquires about, wondering why someone doesn’t clean up the outside. Confederation poet Archibald Lampman once lived on Florence Street with his mother. Elvis performed at the Auditorium on Argyle Street, the same stadium that once housed the Ottawa Senators — it was later demolished and replaced with the YM-YWCA.

There are more recent events as well. The collapse of the wasted space that occupies Bank and Somerset streets, at the husk of the Duke of Somerset building, for example. Imagine: someone with money could refurbish such as an Ottawa version of Toronto’s Gladstone Hotel, providing much-needed hotel space downtown, a martini bar and a cool arts space.

At the corner of Bank and Argyle streets, there was the crossbow murder of crown attorney Patricia Allen by her husband in 1991. There are events we remember because we need to remember them.

The shifts are constant, continuous, and to be expected. Condos arise like mushrooms, including around McLeod and Bank, within the former village of Stewarton. Recently, we discovered that the house we lived in, just west of the intersection, was once owned by a friend’s great-grandparents. He sent wedding portraits from the 1920s of his grandparents as they stood in our driveway. Ottawa poet, songwriter, and cabdriver William Hawkins claimed to know the house in the 1970s as a very sketchy rooming house, as he delivered various unsavory types to a front door we would grace for two years. The house itself, with our enviable third-storey turret, was one of the first on our block, constructed in 1895. That stretch of McLeod sits on such a ripple of bedrock that basements become, from house to house, of a completely random depth.

Some might resist the construction of condos in the city’s core, but it far beats the alternative. Most of the 1990s seemed to include every second or third business closing, and it felt as though the plan was to actually exclude downtown residents. I feared for Ottawa turning its downtown into a dead core, much like what Calgary had been for a long time. The revitalization, done properly, can provide new energy to a city that requires both renewal and the knowledge of what had come before.

And, as Saskatchewan poet and Chinatown resident John Newlove once wrote, the past is a foreign country. And yet, so much is familiar. He lived on Rochester Street for 17 years, the longest he lived anywhere. Arriving from British Columbia in 1986, he once claimed to live in Ottawa, “for his sins.”

A recent postcard-sized story of mine reads: “Every city constructed out of a series of markers, of landmarks, but what happens to a city when it is constantly in danger of losing? What happens to memory when a city is constantly new? There is nothing to hold on to, there are no regulars to keep the rent in your restaurant. There is no heart, no soul, no loyalty. When a city is constantly new, it runs the risk of losing all meaning.”

This knowledge provides a richness to the landscape. Part of why we resisted the condo-company attempting “South Central” was precisely for the sake of our own history. We don’t need a new name. We already have one.



Ottawa-born rob mclennan is the author of, among others, The Uncertainty Principle: stories, the non-fiction Ottawa: The Unknown City, and the poetry collection If suppose we are a fragment. He blogs at robmclennan.blogspot.com