Thursday, November 24, 2011

a collaborative work-in-progress between Christine McNair + rob mclennan

Dismantled, lodge

But how with gnarled hands holds the many and how? The sun and shadow of Rhode Island? Let alone the earth?
                        Rosmarie Waldrop


A strata, many featured. Afterlife of trees. Streetcorner, dance. So barely noticed. Does, her little move.

Arrangement, in the teeth. Red daisies, diamond truck. My name is, not. Grammar. Red-winged blackbird, curls. No one, possibilities. The room. We speak no, French.

Authorial, activity. Barnswallow, trance. Poignant, and ephiphinal. Determined. Laurentian Hills, so named.

My father, a distant cousin in St. Marguerite, 1950s. Am I the last to know.

A talent for arranging. Words, can't break. Imagine, her left hip.


Sessional, cloud. They come in curlicues. In, waves.

Hybrids, peaches. So, you make. Misty expectations. August. What we try to, hold. Vowels, a lung. An eighth troubled day. An undergrowth of bodies. Landed.

You were significant, rail. Tethers, the bike paths. Written, from opposite ends.

Old age is its voice. Invented, out of sight. Basement, cooling stage. The birdsong, insular. Make tea, play guitar. Autoharp.

Pecked, out a balloon. A red remark.


A corporate appeal, denied. The trap door, opens. Ultimately, appeared. A warbled, contradiction. Cowboys, up a name. In French, les voyageurs. Hernias hold in, scarves.

Not to know our time. Placing bones into the earth. A perfect, bit. They raid the biker hills.

As old as I am, now. Porcelain, chops. Deceptions, wire. String.

The snow, precludes. It is, only August.


« le jour où il l'avait rencontrée dans un champ de fraises »
            Un homme et son péché, Claude-Henri Grignon


August stings, deceives, unravels. Under my feet the lawn corporeals, slides up and slips. It circles round and there are trees and they are around and the windshudders. The trees shudderflex. The rain bends the roof. Barely bearable, instep peels down onto cold grass moves imperceptibly. The deck sighs. My feet are on the grass. We labyrinth round. My buried dogs yip in the earth. They eye you cautiously. The deer eat the flowers. The rain buckets.


The balloon store has closed. All the puppets are lost. The crawl up the chalets at night and hoof the sky. Howl and pull at the shingles. The balloons evolve into jellyfish, luminesce, purr. Feral bicycles roam the streets, slick the medians with coral. They are not to be approached past midnight.


Sainte not saint. Feminine distinct. Adele stretches, yawns, picks at her teeth. Adele is the colour of the sky. Adele is rambunctious and shivery. Adele is running in heels. Adele shakes her braids out. Adele kicks the mountain. Adele contains the forest. Adele bites the wind. Adele pushes her fists into the mud. Adele is the smell of crushed leaves. Adele creaks the thunder. Adele turns the cross into an earring. Adele hums a tune. Adele saves a pretty penny. Adele consumes peaches by the bushel.


My fifteenth grandfather stirs at the mention of Rhode Island. Fluffs his wig and sleeps miles away, where the trains no longer go.


Read rob discuss the collaborative process at Open Book

Christine McNair's work has appeared in cv2, Prairie Fire,, Arc, the Bywords Quarterly Journal, Descant, and assorted other places. Her first collection of poems Conflict, is forthcoming with BookThug in spring 2012. She works as a book doctor in Ottawa, is one of the hosts of CKCU Lit Landscapes, and blogs at

Born in Ottawa, Canada’s glorious capital city, rob mclennan currently lives in Ottawa. The author of more than twenty trade books of poetry, fiction and non-fiction, his most recent titles are the poetry collections A (short) history of l. (BuschekBooks, 2011), grief notes: (BlazeVOX [books], 2011), Glengarry (Talonbooks, 2011), kate street (Moira, 2011) and 52 flowers (or, a perth edge) (Obvious Epiphanies, 2010), and a second novel, missing persons (2009). An editor and publisher, he runs above/ground press, Chaudiere Books (with Jennifer Mulligan), The Garneau Review (, seventeen seconds: a journal of poetry and poetics ( and the Ottawa poetry pdf annual ottawater ( He spent the 2007-8 academic year in Edmonton as writer-in-residence at the University of Alberta, and regularly posts reviews, essays, interviews and other notices at


  1. can i ask how the collaborating functions. for instance do you both contribute a poem, perhaps one stanza, then the other person the next? or do you literally write together? is one supposed to be a response to the last?
    i ask because a friend and i did a collection of villanelles. we used on line from the previous person's poem as one of the repeated lines. it came quite good considering we didn't the structure very well. we're thinking of doing this again so i'm curious how you are going about it.

  2. so far, we are writing individual poems, & after the first one or two, we started using each other's to rework/rewrite in whatever way; im hoping that we get to the point that even those intimately aware of our individual work will have difficulty knowing who wrote which piece; i want our writing to actually begin to merge...