Fresh Raw Cuts

Trobairitz: Celebration of Voice, Love, Sex & Music in the Poetry of Catherine Owen

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Trobairitz: Celebration of Voice, Love, Sex & Music in the Poetry of Catherine Owen

 

Review by Mark McCawley

 

trobairitzTrobairitz
by Catherine Owen
Anvil Press, 5.5×8, 156pp, $18.00 CAN/US
published, Fall 2012

Despite the dark, often violent patriarchal images and themes associated with Trobairitz’s heavy metal subtext and its concomitant social and sexual inequalities and class structures — Catherine Owen’s Trobairitz is an optimistic, even confident collection of poems celebrating the myriad voices of love: passionate love, erotic love, marital love, adulterous love in which Owen has rediscovered and reapplied rare medieval forms against a heavy metal backdrop of the present without losing a single beat.

Instead of embroiling her poems on easy feminist sexual polemics (as many of her reviewers and critics seem to do), Owen celebrates the power and strength of women in her poems in Trobairitz regardless of whether they are set in the 12th or 21st Century (in some poems, time itself merges):
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Of Cartywheels & Autopsies: the poetry of Christine McNair & Catherine Owen

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Of Cartywheels & Autopsies:

the poetry of Christine McNair & Catherine Owen

Review by Mark McCawley

Notes From A Cartywheel,

by Christine McNair

AngelHousePress, 7×8.5, 24pp, $5.00 (CAN)

published, November 2011

AngelHousePress is an Ottawa-based micro-press founded and published by poet and writer, Amanda Earl, in 2007. Although Earl first began AHP as a vehicle to publish her own work, she soon discovered the “thrill in publishing raw talent, ragged edges, rule breakers.” Indeed, no two AHP titles or side projects of Earl’s — Bywords, Experiment-O (an annual PDF magazine that celebrates the art of risk) — are bound to share the same poetic trajectories. Which brings us to the two AngelHousePress chapbooks at hand.

In the seventeen poems which comprise Notes From A Cartywheel, Christine McNair functions primarily as an experimental language poet. In the suite of “Cartywheel” poems numbered simply “one”, “four” through to “twelve”, the poems act as spokes within a central language wheel. Not only are the poems cyclic allegorically, McNair plays upon the internal qualities of language to further this metaphor.
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More AltrOck Label Releases — 2011/2012

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More AltrOck Label Releases — 2011/2012

Born in 2005 from an idea by Marcello Marinone, who organized the first edition of the AltrOck Festival devoted to experimental and «on the borders» music, and, together with Francesco Zago, established the homonym label, whose first release was Yugen’s Labirinto d’acqua. The aim both of the festival and label was to produce, promote and propose in various forms the best of what actual underground musical italian (but not only) scene offered, from experimental to avant-jazz, from RIO’s heritage to contemporary classical and progressive rock.

Of course, for those raised on mainstream music in North America, releases from AltrOck might come as something of a shock. A very pleasant shock, I might add. Like all great underground art, AltrOck consistently gathers together and releases albums from bands and groups from as far and wide geographically as they are eclectic, experimental and avant-garde. On the same disc, you’ll discover influences as disparate as prog, RIO, proto-punk, and neo classical. This is not music for the lazy listener. Every track requires the listener’s full attention. There are no cheap hooks or quick gimmicks in these releases. To the attentive listener, the rewards are as myriad and as varied as the music itself.
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3 above/ground press chapbooks from 2012

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let lie\ by Elizabeth Rainer and Michael Blouin
above/ground press, 8.5×5.5, 20pp, $4.00 (CAN)
published, January 2012

Excerpts from Impossible Books: The Crawdad Cantos
by Stephen Brockwell
above/ground press, 8.5×5.5, 20pp, $4.00 (CAN)
published, February 2012

Sextet: six poems from Songs for little sleep,
by rob mclennan
above/ground press, 8.5×5.5, 20pp, $4.00 (CAN)
published, January 2012

Reviewed by Mark McCawley

The quintessential poet’s micro-press, above/ground press — founded and published by poet, writer, and editor Rob McLennan out of Ottawa, Ontario — publishes chapbooks by both newly emerging and established poets alike. What makes above/ground press titles stand apart from other micro-press poetry chapbooks (besides their nondescript covers, that is) is that they offer the reader glimpses into collaborations as well as individual works in progress. It’s these glimpses which above/ground gives that makes their titles unique, revealing the process of the poet’s composition, their collaborations, as each waltz’s their muse along the thin razor’s edge of creation.

In let lie\, an excerpt from a collaborative work by Elizabeth Rainer and Michael Blouin, we are given glimpses into pieces which were written over a period of a year and a half and emailed back and forth:

to describe it\ I should not ask you when you touch yourself to think of me as I am there no probably this is the very type of thing I should keep to myself that and this is the failure of poetry to do you any kind of justice at all light tapping of my heart punching holes in the sky.

it would be\ nice for me if you were someone else for a change someone who didn’t know me so well my tremors hopes then when we were making love it would all be different once more your ankles up around and there wouldn’t be that look on your face him, again.

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Bill Bailey by Tony O’Neill

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Bill Bailey by Tony O’Neill
Black Bile’s One-off Chapbook Series 3
Black Bile Press, 16pp, $5.00 (CAN)

Review by Mark McCawley

Tony O’Neill is among the new vanguard of contemporary urban post-realist writers writing since the turn of the millennium. His fiction is raw, honest, unpretentious, unsympathetic and completely unapologetic in it’s use of sex and violence. O’Neill deftly explores and examines the underside of modern urban life with dark, sardonic humour and a mordant insight which only a past substance user and abuser can possess.

In Bill Bailey, O’Neill gives us a violence and lust-filled story which follows O’Neill’s unnamed narrator through a single alcohol-fueled day in Hollywood. As with much contemporary urban fiction, the setting functions almost as a character onto itself – Hollywood’s urban decay a microcosm for any urban center. O’Neill’s further use of post-apocalyptic imagery gives the story an almost cinematic feel akin to George A. Romero and John Carpenter, with a dash of David Cronenberg:

“…death was everywhere. It was in the air. It clung to my clothes like last night’s cigarettes. I stunk like a butcher’s window; I reeked of death from the inside out.” (p.5)

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