Apt. 9 in Trade

I love making chapbooks through Apt. 9 Press. It is a great joy to publish work by writers I admire, work I inevitably wish I had written. Due to the time and labour-intensive nature of Apt. 9 productions, print-runs are necessarily limited. Typically 50 copies, with occasional reprints when circumstances call for it. One consequence of this is that this wonderful writing is not permanently available. This can be good or bad depending on your perspective. I love limited editions and finding rare publications by my favourite writers, but I also understand the frustration of just missing out on something. So, I’m always thrilled when a chapbook published by Apt. 9 shows up later in a trade collection, becoming available to a wider audience (and I’m always excited to see Apt. 9 in the acknowledgements).

The press has been active for just over four years now, which is long enough for more than a couple of these publications to have appeared. A new one was launched this past Friday in Ottawa, and this felt like an opportune moment to briefly catalogue these items. Of the twenty five books published by Apt. 9, six have gone on to appear in trade collections to date, or nearly 1/4 of what we’ve published. This is a bit skewed as three chapbooks were launched last week. So let’s say 6/22 is a bit more accurate. These six were published by Pedlar, Mansfield, BookThug, and Anvil, four presses I have great respect for and I couldn’t be happier to see Apt. 9 items hidden away in their bibliographies.

Ridley, Sandra. Rest Cure. Ottawa: Apt. 9 Press, August 2009.

–. Post-Apothecary. Toronto: Pedlar Press, 2011.


Rest Cure, one of the first three titles published by Apt. 9 Press, was reprinted in Sandra Ridley’s excellent Post-Apothecary, receiving the typically gorgeous Pedlar-treatment. Sandra also published two broadsides with Ottawa operations, “Plunge” (above/ground press poem broadside #286) and “Untether : Unhinge” (AngelHousePress Broadside #002), that appear in the collection. Sandra has a new collection out from BookThug that you should be tracking down to read as well. Three great collections since 2010 have quickly established Sandra across the country.

Ross, Stuart. I Have Come To Talk About Manners. Ottawa: Apt. 9 Press, February 2010.

–. You Exist. Details Follow. Vancouver: Anvil Press, 2012.


I Have Come To Talk About Manners was a real joy to publish. Stuart Ross was coming to Ottawa to read in the Tree Reading Series, and I approached him about publishing a chapbook to mark the occasion. True to his generous form, Stuart agreed and we got the book together quickly. 14 or so poems appear in both. The chapbook cover still makes me laugh with its subtly-twisted picture.

Nash, Leigh. Landforms. Ottawa: Apt. 9 Press, May 2010.

–. Goodbye, Ukelele. Toronto: Mansfield Press, 2010.


Leigh Nash and Andrew Faulkner’s The Emergency Response Unit is a touchstone of design and poetics for Apt. 9. I was motivated when they brought their books to Ottawa in 2008 (or 2007?) and it brought me great joy to publish a book of Leigh’s in 2010. Landforms, a series of eleven excellent minimalist poems, was rewritten in Goodbye, Ukelele, as a single prose-poem. This remains one of the best Apt. 9 covers, in my opinion. I would love to see some new poetry from Leigh, and hope there is something in the works. People-in-the-know: have I missed anything recently from Leigh?

Smith, Jim. Exit Interviews. Ottawa: Apt. 9 Press, June 2011.

–. Happy Birthday, Nicanor Parra. Toronto: Mansfield Press, 2012.


I’ve written about Jim on this blog previously. Exit Interviews was enormously fun to produce. I love Jim’s list poems, and a set that so consciously and lovingly worked with the materials of his peers and influences was a very welcome surprise when the manuscript appeared. We even produced a broadside, “Postscript to Exit Interviews,” to tuck into the chapbook that appears in a slightly different form in the trade collection. Everything that is great about Jim as a poet can be found in Happy Birthday, Nicanor Parra.

Hall, Phil. A Rural Pen. Ottawa: Apt. 9 Press, October 2012.

–. The Small Nouns Crying Faith. Toronto: Bookthug, 2013.


I have long admired Phil Hall as a poet. I first met Phil at the Tree Reading Series in Ottawa. I had been recruited to present the dead poet reading, and chose Kenneth Patchen to focus on. I found out after the reading that Phil and I had an admiration of Patchen in common. When Phil generously provided me with a manuscript, we decided to try to include Patchen in the project somehow. The cover image is a drawing of Patchen’s from his book We Meet (1960). I wrote to New Directions and, much to my surprise, they gave us the rights to use it. I couldn’t be happier with this book.

The original in Patchen.

Brockwell, Stephen. Excerpts from Improbable Books: The Apt. 9 Installment. Ottawa: Apt. 9 Press, June 2013.

–. Complete Surprising Fragments of Improbable Books. Toronto: Mansfield Press, 2013.


This past Friday, Stephen Brockwell launched his unbelievably good new collection at the Ottawa International Writer’s Festival, the books apparently arriving direct from the printer mere hours before the event (so new, in fact, it doesn’t appear on the publisher’s website yet). I’ve discussed the project before. I think this is an important book, one that deserves to bring Stephen greater respect than he already receives. It’s idea seems to simple and clear now that it exists, but it took someone with Stephen’s combinations of poetic curiosity and scientific/technical knowledge to realize it. I feel very lucky to have helped bring a small part of it into print before the trade collection.

So there you go. If you missed any of these, you can at least track down the writing in these books. You should be buying these six books regardless.


Recent and Upcoming Events

Back in August, I had the opportunity to sit down with Nigel Beale and discuss one of my personal and academic interests–Canadian book design. We spoke about Frank Newfeld, McClelland & Stewart, Coach House, and a bunch of other stuff. If you’re interested, you can listen to the 38 minute interview at Nigel’s always fascinating website, The Literary Tourist. I am grateful to Nigel for the interest and for the conversation. It was a great time, and I got to look at Nigel’s books as an added bonus.


One week from tonight, I will be the feature reader in The Reading Series, run by my friends at In/Words Magazine & Press (Carleton University). Beyond my tenure as an editor, I read in the series once before in July 2011 when it was under the stewardship of Justin Million. It will be a joy to take part once again. I’m planning a little freebie handout for anyone who is kind enough to be there listening. 9pm at the Clocktower Brew Pub in the Glebe, downstairs in the basement. Apparently there will be prizes for open-mic participants “dressed up in scary poetry-related costumes.”

three poems

Apt. 9 had a wildly successful launch last Friday, with spectacular readings from Jesslyn Delia Smith, Spencer Gordon and Rhonda Douglas. The new chapbooks are available online now in the Apt. 9 Etsy shop for anyone interested. We’ll also be bringing the books to Toronto in November for the Meet the Presses Indie Literary Market. We had a table two years ago and it was really a wonderful time. I can’t wait to see what everyone in Toronto and beyond has been up to.

Indie lit market poster

Ottawa Small Press Book Fair (October 2013)

Some very preliminary notes on a few of the items I brought home from the recent small press book fair. I haven’t had much time to devote to reading through all of this yet, but I wanted to post some initial thoughts and responses while the fair was fresh in my mind. So:


Grow & Grow (Toronto)

Jessica Bebenek came to town with her brand new Toronto-based small press, Grow & Grow. Apt. 9 traded some of our books for the three new titles Bebenek published: Infiltration by Ben Groh, Consanguinity from S.E. Chaves, and Novella: A Short Story by Kaz Adam Mason. Benebek read from Novella at the pre-fair reading. The story was actually written by Bebenek’s partner, Mark Jordan Manner. It describes a love story between its supposed author, Kaz Adam Mason, and fictional poet, Novella Ebony Danger, charting the imagined life of Novella and quoting from her poems. The chapbook includes a smaller chapbook in a flap on the back cover of Novella’s poems, written by Bebenek. It’s a captivating read, despite how confusing my description is. The story feels to me as though Wes Anderson retold Paul Hiebert’s Sarah Binks, though more earnest than Hiebert. I have not yet had time to read the Chaves or Groh titles (Grow & Grow published Groh? The review would write itself), but it is always exciting to discover new communities of young writers that are finding ways to publish each other. Grow & Grow are working hard to push themselves as book makers, and the time and care invested are evident in these productions. Support them! I’m looking forward to seeing where the press goes.




Puddles of Sky (Kingston)

The best item I picked up last weekend was issue three of Illiterature from Michael Casteels’ Puddles of Sky. Casteels has been making interesting books in interesting ways for a couple years now, but this is far and away the best thing his press has done (and one of the best little magazine issues I’ve seen in years). This issue is focused on minimalist poetry, presenting new work from Nelson Ball, Gary Barwin, Judith Copithorne, jwcurry, Amanda Earl, Aram Saroyan, Mark Truscott, and others. In a nod to bpNichol’s The Cosmic Chef, authors are not identified beside their work, but rather only at the back where their bios include notes about who wrote what. This gesture makes for a fun reading experience. I was surprised by who I guessed correctly, and who I was completely wrong about. There are concrete poems here, minimal lyrics, drawings, letraset experiments, and photographs of graffiti from jwcurry’s ongoing Welcome to Concrete anthology (at least I think that is what the photographs are from). There is even a tiny chapbook of visual work by Amanda Earl tucked into an envelope at the back. Only 100 copies were made, so don’t hesitate. You want this on your shelf.




Jarvis, Jenna. The Tiger with the Crooked Mouth. Ottawa: Bywords, 2013.

Jenna Jarvis, winner of 2012 John Newlove Poetry Award, will be launching her winning chapbook next Friday at the Ottawa International Writer’s Festival. The good folks at Bywords brought along copies of the chapbook to sell in advance at the book fair. I’ve only been able to dip in and out of this one a bit so far, but it is wonderful as we have all come to expect from Jarvis. The production is gorgeous, and continues the Bywords trend of producing beautiful chapbooks. I remember hearing Jarvis read “Plathitude” (published in the chapbook) years ago at an In/Words open-mic, and it is incredibly exciting to see her beginning to move into the broader community. She is a poet to keep an eye on, and Bywords, as ever, is there being supportive at the very start.



Derkson, Dalton and Mason Krawczyk. Winter Sway / / Ottawa Dreary. Mortlach, SK: Hurtin’ Crue Press, 2013.

Though the press is supposedly located in the prairies, Derkson and Krawczyk are students at Carleton University. I’ve got a soft spot for student writers on that campus, and I was thrilled to find this chapbook at the fair. I’m one of the biggest In/Words fans out there, but I’m excited to find work being published outside of the In/Words machine on the campus. The clean, minimal production on this one is great, and the poems show a lot of promise. The nature of the collaboration is not identified in the book, so it is anyone’s guess if the two trade off poems or lines, or worked more closely than that, but I like the move to allow their voices to mix. I hope they keep at it, and I hope Hurtin’ Crue Press publishes more.



Hunter, Claire Pattison and Chris Johnson. Snail Shell. Ottawa: In/Words, 2013.

This collaboration between Hunter and Johnson feels like an extension of Hunter’s 2013 chapbook GCI-YOW (From Guernsey to Ottawa), also published by In/Words. The movement between cities, and across an ocean, is again taken up, only this time in an almost epistolary dialogue. The poems are identified on each page by the poet’s initial, but the “CRJ” and “CPH” are printed in a small font, out of the way, resulting in a reading experience where the author is moved to the margins and the poems emphasize their internal relations to one another. It was published for Ottawa’s recent zine-off, an event I was sad to miss, so I was really happy to be able to grab this at the fair. The cover was printed with the same rubber stamps In/Words used years ago to produce Chapbook Series 8 (discussed in detail by Ben Ladouceur here), creating a neat material continuity with In/Words’ past. Johnson read recently at Plan 99, and lived up to the stakes of the billing. Claire Pattison Hunter recently left Ottawa after completing her degree at Carleton, and our scene is sorry to lose her, but we all know that she’ll make great contributions to whatever new community she finds. If they’re not all gone by now, buy this one.



Radmore, Claudia. Desiree / nude in sunlight. Ottawa: Editions des petits nuages, 2013.

I’ve had the great joy of working with Claudia Coutu Radmore in the past, publishing her 2011 bpNichol Chapbook Award winning title Accidentals through Apt. 9. I’m an avid follower of her work, and was thrilled to see that she was publishing a selection of her poems about Desiree, the “Green-Naped Rainbow Lorikeet” that has been living with her since 2001. These are lovely and personal poems from Radmore, a welcome addition to her published work. Two similar poems, “wild” and “sacrament”, also about Desiree, were published in 2010 in Pith & Wry: Canadian Poetry (ed. Susan McMaster). I was lucky enough to be in that anthology as well, and remember those as some of the first poems from Claudia that caught my eye. Editions des petits nuages is new to me (and I can’t find a formal web presence yet), but are evidently doing great work.



Recent Acquisitions | October 2013

Ball, Nelson and Barbara Caruso. Points of Attention. Toronto: Weed/Flower Press, 1971.

I’ve coveted this book for years now, and finally have a copy on my shelf. Points of Attention was published in 1971 as a collaboration between Barbara Caruso and Nelson Ball in a tiny edition of 50 copies. Typesetting was done at Coach House and printing was done by the Bell Offset Company. It includes eleven poems by Ball, and six serigraphs by Caruso. My copy is number 20 of 50 (and each serigraph is similarly numbered 20/50). My copy does not have the two information slips originally issued, headed “The Poet” and “The Artist” according to Nicky Drumbolis in Nelson Ball Cited.

Points of Attention

Points of Attention 1

According to Kay Kritzwiser in the Globe and Mail (“The beautiful small books from Ball and Caruso,” 16 February 1972), “Points of Attention is their major production. It’s a rarely beautiful hard-cover book, limited to an edition of 50, of which 40 are for sale…the six silkscreen prints tipped into each edition of Points of Attention have an uncanny understanding of pure color relationships…”

Points of Attention 4

Points of Attention 2

Points of Attention is a nice companion piece to Ball’s 1970 Coach House collection The Pre-Linguistic Heights. The Pre-Linguistics Heights has a cover design by Barbara that is clearly a related piece of artwork to the serigraphs in Points of Attention.

pre linguistic 1

pre linguistic 2

The first volume of her published journals, A Painter’s Journey: 1966-1973 (Toronto: Mercury Press, 2005), details the collaboration. The first mention of the book comes on April 19, 1971: “We are working toward a book of poems and prints. Nelson suggests Points of Attention for the title. He is working on the layout now. I have begun drawings toward prints.” Barbara began printing the serigraphs on May 16, 1971, and finished the printing on May 28. Her journals reveal her tremendous labour and attention to detail—printing editions of between 60-75 of each print to ensure 50 clean copies, redesigning and reprinting two of the prints, and re-arranging their order in the book multiple times. The book went to the binders on July 2, 1971. It was finished and in their hands by the time Barbara returned to her journal on July 14: “After getting advice on how to price it from Marty [Ahvenus] ($50), Jim Lowell (17.50) and Jack Pollock ($75), Nelson decided on $47.50. Thirteen copies have gone out already and we have sales on four more. Nelson is still tipping in the prints” (127). The project was completed in time for their trip to Europe, funded by the Canada Council grant each received in 1971, and a copy was brought along to show art galleries and bookstores during their three months of travel.


Truhlar, Richard. Nicky Drumbolis Interview. Toronto: ROOM 3o2 BOOKS, 1990.

Drumbolis, Nicky. Let Literature Language. Toronto: CURVD H&Z 351, 1987.

Two Nicky Drumbolis items picked up recently from jwcurry. The interview by recently-deceased Richard Truhlar is enlightening, and says things about bookselling that I have been struggling to articulate in my ongoing dissertation proposal, including the notion of “contributive bookselling” wherein “the bookseller acts a kind of cultural…what?…midwife or traffic cop or something like this & not only stocks books but somehow contextualizes what he or she knows/has at his or her command.” He argues for a sense of responsibility on the part of the bookseller to the books, to the community, and to the history of small press. This should be required reading for anyone who sells or handles books.


Let Literature Language is a beautiful (and obscenity-filled) poem. This is the second edition of a poem originally published by Drumbolis himself through Letters in 1986. The CURVD H&Z hand-stamped process is something to aspire to in terms of the commitment to, labour in the service of, the work being published—“sheer fuckn majesty”.


above/ground press 20th anniversary fetish object. Ottawa: above/ground press, 2013.

Published on the occasion of the 20th anniversary celebration of above/ground press (23 August 2013 at the Mercury Lounge in Ottawa), the “fetish object” is stunning. Christine McNair performed the labour, detailed as followed: “All broadsides lightly trimmed by the butcherous bookbinder and collected into an edition of ten. Each set is housed in a leather and paper slipcase. Slipcase was covered in weathered calf-skin with laid paper sides and was fancied into being by Christine McNair.” If you missed this on the night, you truly missed out. At the price they were selling it, I should have bought two, but that would have been greedy as there were only 10 produced. I snagged copy 2 by dumb luck.

fetish object 1

The set includes 31 “poem” broadsides, and touches on the huge range of aesthetic and poetic interests rob has nurtured over twenty years. Poems from Marilyn Irwin, Jamie Bradley, Pearl Pirie, Sandra Ridley, Gwendolyn Guth and others show some of the Ottawa community represented, while poems from Stephanie Bolster, derek beaulieu, George Bowering, Phil Hall, Gil McElroy and others show how above/ground managed to reach beyond the city.

fetish colophon

Also included is a bibliography of the 332 “poem” broadsides published up to the date that the “fetish object” came into existence.

fetish biblio

I’ve still got copies of the extended interview with rob mclennan about the history of above/ground press that I published through Apt. 9 this past August as well. Copies can be purchased online here, or in person at the Ottawa Small Press Book Fair this coming Saturday.


Not a book, but there is also this wonderful 50-minute Jim Bryson concert up at VIMEO, performed in someone’s living room in Yellowknife. Wish we’d been there, but its got us pretty excited for his annual Black Sheep Inn Christmas Show.