rob mclennan : author bio,

Electronic Poetry Center page : League of Canadian Poets (out-of-date) member page

Born in Ottawa, Canada’s glorious capital city, rob mclennan [photo credit: Matthew Holmes] currently lives in Ottawa, where he is home full-time with the two wee girls he shares with the brilliant and utterly delightful poet and book conservator Christine McNair. The author of more than thirty trade books of poetry, fiction and non-fiction, he won the CAA/Most Promising Writer in Canada under 30 Award in 1999, the John Newlove Poetry Award in 2010, the Council for the Arts in Ottawa Mid-Career Award in 2014, and was longlisted for the CBC Poetry Prize in 2012. He has published books with Talonbooks, The Mercury Press, Black Moss Press, New Star Books, Insomniac Press, Broken Jaw Press, Stride, Salmon Publishing and others, and his most recent titles include notes and dispatches: essays (Insomniac press, 2014), The Uncertainty Principle: stories, (Chaudiere Books, 2014) and the poetry collection A perimeter (New Star Books, 2016). Further poetry titles are forthcoming from Flat Singles Press and Salmon Publishing.

He also has well over one hundred chapbooks of poetry and fiction, including publications with words(on)pages, above/ground press, Apostrophe Press, Porkbelly Press, ShirtPocketPress, Gaspereau Press, Corrupt Press, little red leaves textile editions, AngelHousePress, Lipstick Press, Bywords, unarmed, Gorse Press, Laurel Reed Books, Dusty Owl Press, Pooka Press, Reference West, Grove Avenue Press and housepress, among others.

His current projects include the poetry manuscripts “World’s End” and “the book of smaller,” a collection of short stories, “On Beauty,” a collection of shorter stories, “Little Arguments,” the creative non-fiction work “The Last Good Year,” and the novel “Don Quixote” (see his essay on such at Rain Taxi). He has also been working on a collaboration over the past few years with Christine McNair, some of which has appeared in two chapbooks, and discussed here.

In a review of his wild horses (2010), Judith Fitzgerald wrote: “Arguably his generation’s finest practitioner, mclennan’s myriad strengths predominantly lie in his life-long quest to stay afloat in language’s slippery straits, its treacherous depths, its perilously heady spindrifts where polyphony’s the aim and compression’s the game.” In a review for Arc Poetry Magazine of red earth (2003), Harold Rhenisch wrote: “The concept of a poem which is really an anti-poem, a poem which exists on the edges, in fragments, parentheses, lacunae, jottings scribbled on the back of the hand or the inside of the skull, even notes chiseled into the brain stem with a dental pick, is liberating. These are poems caught up in a sensory whirl, which find stillness not in turning away from transience, but in turning to face it, unshaven and bleary-eyed as the road unwinds past like an NFB film flapping onto its reel […]. mclennan is better than the lot, a kind of Canadian Robert Creeley, presenting us with moments to move into, like museum dioramas, incomplete until we stand in them. In mclennan, a whole tradition that has been underground in Canada for almost half a century has found a new champion.”

In a review of the novel Missing Persons (2009), Canadian Literature offered it as “a welcome addition to the body of Canadian prairie fiction.” In Rain Taxi, writing on The Uncertainty Principle: stories, (2014), Brian Mihok wrote: Throughout The Uncertainty Principle, the mystery of unknowing is a kind of knowledge in itself—knowledge that any truth can be taken away from us, that no truth has permanence. It's an unnerving and beautiful notion.In Necessary Fiction, Sheldon Lee Compton wrote: “mclennan, already accomplished in several forms, may well have managed to redefine the flash, not to mention the micro-flash form, with The Uncertainty Principle.

An editor and publisher, he runs The Garneau Review, seventeen seconds:a journal of poetry and poetics, Touchthe Donkey and the Ottawa poetry pdf annual ottawater. He runs the ottawa poetry newsletter blog, as well as curating the On Writing series there. He has curated the Tuesday poem series over at the dusie blog since it began in early 2013 [you can sign up for the weekly email list for such here]. His 12 or 20 questions series is well over a thousand interviews deep (so far) since 2007, including interviews with small publishers. His chapbook press, above/ground press, was founded in 1993 and recently surpassed eight hundred titles (see links to other online schemes here). He runs Chaudiere Books (with Christine McNair) and has edited numerous titles for the press, including titles by Andy Weaver, N.W. Lea, Monty Reid, Anne Le Dressay and the anthologies Decalogue: Ten Ottawa Poets (2006), Decalogue 2: Ten Ottawa Fiction Writers (2007), The Calgary Renaissance (w/ derek beaulieu) and Ground Rules: the best of the second decade of above/ground press 2003 – 2013 (2013).

He is “Interviews Editor” at Queen Mob’s Teahouse, a regular contributor to the Ploughshares blog, and an editor/managing editor of many gendered mothers. Until recently, he was a regular contributor to the Drunken Boat blog (a series that continues via Medium), and spent nearly a decade as a columnist for Open Book. In early 2015, he provided more than thirty commentaries (interviews and other critical pieces) on Canadian poetry for Jacket2, and in the 1990s, he was a regular columnist for The Ottawa X-Press, WORD (Toronto) and VERB (Vancouver). More recently, he has been working on an ongoing bibliography of Ottawa publishers and presses. Founder and curator of The Factory Reading Series (begun in January 1993), he co-founded the ottawa small press book fair in 1994, which he has run twice a year since. He has toured relentlessly across Canada, as well as parts of the United States and United Kingdom. He spent the 2007-8 academic year in Edmonton as writer-in-residence at the University of Alberta, and, since 2003, has been one of the most active book reviewers in the country, having regularly posted reviews, essays, interviews and other notices at

In March 2016, he was inducted into the VERSe Ottawa Hall of Honour. He is the recipient of two Senior Canada Council grants, and his literary archives are held at the University of Calgary. He can be found here on Twitter, and has a Patreon page.

He is father of Kate (b. 1991), Rose (b. 2013) and Aoife (b. 2016).


Popular Posts