Read rob mclennan’s musings on Dinosaur Porn.

Read Vox Populism’s thoughts on the broadsides we produced for the 2010 Scream Literary Festival .

Read rob mclennan’s review of Marcus McCann’s Force quit in the Antigonish Review.

Read an interview with us and Ferno House about the genesis of Dinosaur Porn and why making chapbooks is awesome.

Read about Cameron Anstee’s chapbook Water Upsets Stone (2009) over at the Bytown Bookshop.

Listen to Nashira Dernesch reading from her chapbook This Snowing Under (2008) at the Art Bar Poetry series (July 21, 2009).

Review of Nashira Dernesch’s This Snowing Under (2008)
By Anne F. Walker (originally appeared on

These works present as poems of being. They are a series of (mostly short) imagistic vignettes. “Douglas, at 9 or 10” reads:

sneaks off after school to see
Singing in the Rain for a nickel.
He slips hoe to find his father
has stolen the money
mother warned him to hide.
What Douglas earns for the bricks he lays,
stacked like hope upon hope, against him.

The narrative in this is clear and to me reading it is like watching a stone skim, skip and sink. First it appears to be a poem of being, a narrative of time and place, and then when the momentum finally rests the depth is suggested in the final line.

“Ships That Pass In The Night” has a similar shape, first describing the coming home and leaving another in bed, the moving toward the “shimmering / around me” which feels like the poem’s impulse. “The comfort of a stranger’s wrist” plays the same chord. It presents details “from the back seat / of a midnight Greyhound” and move toward the ah-ha that there is longing, suggested in the line “it’s been too long.”

The collection is short, well-bound and pleasant with graceful crafting. They are not poems of scream, but poems of breath.

Read Pearl Pirie on Gary Barwin and Gregory Betts’ chapbook Chora Sea (2009) and the performance at Max Middle’s AB Series from which the book was derived, The Obvious Flap (February 25, 2009).

Pencil Sharpener Item (Broken Pencil): The Emergency Response Unit, edited by Andrew Faulkner and Leigh Nash
by Spencer Gordon

Perceiving a dearth in dedicated chapbook presses in Toronto, local residents Leigh Nash and Andrew Faulkner pooled their resources and formed The Emergency Response Unit, a brand new micro-press committed to publishing affordable, quality chapbooks. “We aim to fill the space between one-off poems published in journals and full-length books,” says Faulkner. “We’re attracted to the idea of poems not necessarily as a sequence, but as a bundle, and the chapbook is ideal for this type of presentation.” Having laid the groundwork for the outfit in early 2008, their first titles rolled off the press this November, featuring books by Nashira Dernesch, Anya Douglas, Marcus McCann, and Nash and Faulkner themselves. They’re taking poetry submissions for future chapbooks (they’re “open to a range of poetic styles, too; just take a look at the first set of chapbooks to find out”, says Nash) between November 1st and January 31st – and one day, they may even publish fiction. Chapbook prices encourage bulk purchases: one book goes for $8, two for $15, three for $21, four for $26, and five for $30. Check them out at, or e-mail them with questions or spell components at

Review of Andrew Faulkner’s Useful Knots and How to Tie Them (The Emergency Response Unit 2008)
By Spencer Gordon (originally appeared in Broken Pencil)

Andrew Faulkner’s Useful Knots and How to Tie Them comes as part of the first batch of limited-edition chapbooks released by his new Toronto-based micro-press, The Emergency Response Unit. Useful Knots is soaked with the grey, after-hour burn of fried synapse and regret, the indifferent accumulation of urban and suburban despair: piss-filled bottles, all-night binges, early morning shuffles home, the stench of gas, Value Village parking lots and unfinished basements. The title of the chapbook comes from the 1946 Plymouth Data Book for Rope Users, which also serves as an organizational locus for the text. Entangled (knotted?) image fusions – tied by frequent, almost off-handed metaphors – produce incredibly lucid impressions, showcasing Faulkner’s wonderful gift of clarity. One of the finer qualities about this collection is its sheer readability. In each of these twelve taut, polished poems, Faulkner leaves an enticing narrative thread to follow, even when his more obviously logical connections fray and we find ourselves flirting with the edge of abstraction or technical experimentation (including variations on the sonnet, and an exquisite Can-Lit cento). As the quoted knot-book reminds us: “The success of your knot is up to you.” In this spirit, Faulkner relinquishes control over final interpretive authority, trusting his readers to keep their fingers busy (and hopefully chapped, sore, and bloodied) with the happy task of teasing out another subtly knotted bond.

Review of Leigh Nash’s five-seven-five: train poems (The Emergency Response Unit 2008)
By Spencer Gordon (originally appeared in Broken Pencil)

Leigh Nash’s five-seven-five: train poems is another chapbook offering from her brand-new press, The Emergency Response Unit, which “translates train poems into haikus while preserving the feeling and style of the originals”. Nash’s poems share the same titles as their inspirational texts (utilizing works by writers such as Pratt, Eliot, Dickinson, and Avison), presenting a series of distillations of original poems, offering radical translations via intense reduction, simultaneously assisted and restricted by the minimalism of the haiku. This is brave, risky work: ambiguities or multitudinous meanings of the originals are restricted, abridged to monolithically delimiting representations. It’s hard for this slim book to stand alone; only by reading Nash alongside her inspirations can one hear the vital dialogue between disparate voices, or can one interpret her process of conversion. That being said, Nash certainly accomplishes her goal, and offers stunning examples of formal and technical ingenuity. Her translation of “Towards the Last Spike” concentrates a nation-making toil with hammering spondees; there’s an echo of the original playful rhyme in “Skimbleshanks: The Railway Cat”; original lines are winningly preserved in cut and abbreviated forms, as in “District and Circle” (Heaney) and “Essentialist” (Babstock). She manages the monosyllabic, plain-spoken rhythms of Karen Solie and channels the beat loneliness of Lawrence Ferlinghetti. Bravo and many thanks to Nash for striking up such incredibly vivid, intriguing conversations with writers both alive and dead.

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