Monday, July 15, 2013

punchlines 1.0 - Aaron Tucker

Today's book of poetry:  punchlines 1.0.  Aaron Tucker.  above/ground press.  Maxville, Ontaro.  2013.

Finally, I get to say something about the small presses hardest working man, Rob McLennan.

above/ground press, McLennan's press, has quietly, produced hundreds of simple chapbooks.  For a certain generation of Canadian poet having an above/ground book has become a right of passage.  If you think I am kidding, here is a quick list of poets who come to mind:  David McFadden (who just won the Griffin Prize), John Newlove, B.P. Nichol, George Bowering, Stephanie Bolster, Victor Coleman, Robert Kroetsch and Michael Dennis.  Thought I'd sneak that in and see if anyone was paying attention.

McLennan has brought attention to his press with works by named poets - but where above/ground thrives is in introducing new voices to Canadian poetry.

Aaron Tucker, whose punchline 1.0 is his second above/ground press chapbook, shows he is comfortable in any company with his witty and deceptively clever poems.

what did the Twitter say to the Facebook?

we propel hyperlink from space to space linger long enough to be
terrified + continue
without ornament unaware of external things.

(137 characters)


These are short, crisp and highly entertaining poems.

when is a turk not a turk?

we often talk of the tiny man in
my smartphone tweeting expertly hidden

a small man proud
paperboy's cap plaid face forward
small cigar smell wafts off him
if he had a moustache Freud might say
he is my father made small by envy + pride

he shaves every morning savouring the bite of the razor
as much as the tiny specks of blood that litter white sink, drain

late at night he returns to his room after a day's work
his room is slight, almost barren
walls the cheap plaster of a hasty hotel
he hears all the ticks + turns of the night
metal bed frame a perfect portrait of
his compact nature tiny bedside table with
a single volume spine split always open to
the same page a passage he repeats returns to every night
a stub, still smoking, barely extinguished in the ashtray
the smoke curls up like briny screensaver wraps entirely around
almost sleeping face then my screen winks out entirely


Tucker is a professor of English at Ryerson University and with his second title from above/ground belongs to a very illustrious list of poets who McLennan has published.  There is little doubt that we will see more from Tucker.

And luckily even less doubt about McLennan.  His tireless efforts for poets and poetry through above/ground and countless other ventures help ensure the future of poetry in Canada.

Aaron Tucker's entirely-worth-the-time chapbook punchline 1.0 was a pleasure to read and a harbinger of bigger things to come.

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