Monday, 18 June 2018

Second Printing (Digital)

Below is the back cover for the second printing of Selected Poems 4th edition followed by the front cover

This 2nd printing is available as a free PDF digital version by emailing 

or you can visit Internet Archive:

or Scribd:

Friday, 1 June 2018

Synaeresis issue 3 is now available

Synaeresis : arts + poetry Issue Three has now been published. Along with these contributors (Donna Allard, Peter Baltensperger, April Bulmer, Don Kingfisher Campbell, Carrie Connel-Gripp, Tara Cronin, Ronda Wicks Eller, Katherine L. Gordon, Gregory Wm. Gunn, Anne Higgins, Debbie Okun Hill, Jim Kemp, Penn Kemp, Monika Lee, Lenny Lianne, Rose Aiello Morales, Brittany Renaud, Koral Scott, Pauline King Shannon, Vivian Wagner), I have a poem and some photos included. 

For Best Viewing:

Use Adobe Acrobat Reader DC

Hit View tab -> Page Display -> Two Page View

Reading size is adjustable – (e.g. 97.6%)

Synaeresis is also available online on these websites:

(please note that downloads on Issuu are a premium feature only)

the viewing size on all of these websites is also adjustable.

***please note that these websites display the magazine a little differently than the actual pdf version – pages that are left are right, and right are left. However if you download Synaeresis from these websites you should see the correct left/right page version***

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

News & Events

Poetry forthcoming in Mansfield Press Anthology

Mansfield Press of Toronto is publishing one of my poems in Another Dysfunctional Cancer Poem Anthology. This collection, edited by Meaghan Strimas and Priscila Uppal and featuring nearly 100 poets, will be released this Fall.

New poems forthcoming in Lummox Press Anthology

Two poems that I wrote during the summer of 2017 will be appearing in Tamaracks: Canadian Poetry for the 21st century, published by Lummox Press of California and edited by James Deahl. The launch is scheduled for the Fall of 2018 with live readings in a number of locations, some of which I hope to participate in. More details TBA.

Upcoming Live Readings

Tuesday, May 29, 2018  Free Times CafĂ©, 320 College St., Toronto
Art Bar Poetry Series – Featured Reading (w/ Kristen A. Smith & Tom Ratt)
8:00pm   $5 at the door.  Host: John Oughton

Printed Broadsides to be for sale and exhibited

Framed and printed versions of my poetry broadsides will soon be available for sale at selected local craft fairs and art exhibitions. More details TBA.

Friday, 4 May 2018

Poet Laureates Will Not Put You to Sleep

bad animals by Tom Cull
Insomniac Press, 2018
ISBN 978-1-55483-212-5
104 pgs., $19.95

Local Heroes by Penn Kemp
Insomniac Press, 2018
ISBN 978-1-55483-206-4
154 pgs., 19.95

On the heels of National Poetry Month 2018, both the present and the emeritus Poet Laureate of London have released books via Insomniac Press, which for a few years now has been based in the Forest City, joining Brick Books and Baseline Press as nationally renowned imprints of literary excellence. Both carry the trademark stylings of each writer; both are impressive in their delivery of off-the-norm subject matter and in the intricate language by which they are conveyed.

bad animals serves as not only an expanded edition of the 2013 chapbook, What the Badger Said (reviewed on this blog at, but is much more, completely fleshed out with freshly scribed narratives of family, the relationship of human with nature, the humour found in the consequences of environmental degradation, and the closer examination of animal sentience and the way the acknowledgement of such affects how we live and conduct ourselves in the greater ecosystem.

Cull’s penchant for examining our routine disrespect for the lands and rivers around us reveals his expert manner of steering clear from didacticism and instead opting for the comedic, the poignant, and the dramatic telling of a story that achieves what a proselytizing attempt would do but in a non-imposing voice or morality.

After Rivers sets the tone early:

your brush will paint the blue-green algae
on the canvas of a perch’s belly

In Cull’s writing, art always comes first – message second, all the while never negating what he wants to say. And in bad animals, the health of our waterways are fought for in a way that a simple treatise could never do:

In April, the carp return to Wellington Bridge.
Lumbering mud barges, they dredge the muck,
subterminal mouths form the Scream of Nature—
they savour tasty bits of crud, send up plumes of silt
like spice harvesters on a watery dune.

— from “Trash Fish”

There are also tender moments of father & son, brother & brother, uncle & nephew – all of which complement the stories of our mammalian friends who at times are rendered by Cull’s pen to be as human as us. This is a book of inter-being, intertwined by a poet’s ability to look, to listen.

Landscapes are described both in the flash of road travel and in the introspection of a horizon’s study; Huron County, in particular (for it is the place of the author’s upbringing). But the urbanity of London beckons again and again, along with places of visitation (e.g. Ripley’s Aquarium in Toronto). The vignettes are not afraid of adopting a jocular tone – Preparing for Apocalypse: 13 Survival Tips, a worthy example. And even in Noro, a horrid stomach virus has just enough whimsy to make it through the night:

I light scented candles, binge beer and Netflix.
She moans in bed, talks to herself;
the cat bellows outside her door;
the air turns saccharin Cinnabon.

On the Shooting of a Black Bear, specifically, can make the reader momentarily forget the seriousness of the plot but does not cross the line into irreverent morbidity, while Show and Tell carries this pervading aura into further episodic reflections.

The long poem, Full Fathom Five brings bad animals to a close and is revelatory with regards to Tom Cull’s selfless work as coordinator of London’s Thames River Rally. Here, vacuum cleaners will not spook / schools of fish you can’t teach nothing, / brother carp have seen stranger; / they’ve gazed up / through frozen ceilings / at shopping carts at war in the night, / abandoned, wheel-less, bent, / pressing down on the ice, / waiting for spring to crack critical mass— / a river-bottom burial of rusting bones. 

Poet, activist, and environmentalist are all wed in the intricate meshing of tears, of words, of laughter. And at the end, the “bad animals,” yes, are better than we.

While our present Poet Laureate serves the community tirelessly, there is certainly no moss growing on London’s first, whose term from 2010 to 2012 was marked by constant engagement with its citizens. Penn Kemp has been on a tear of late (Barbaric Cultural Practice was recently published by Quattro Books, with Fox Haunts forthcoming in the Fall from Aeolus House).  

Kemp’s adroitness as a playwright and storyteller makes Local Heroes an informative delight of local art and history – its epicenter an in-depth narration of her father’s passing and the evocative sounds that accompany the transition from his life’s frailty to a peace found in death.

Snows give way to monochrome of early spring in muted miles. // My father is dying in a field of colours. I do not know when or / if I will reach him in what we call time. He is flying, floating out / beyond spectrum, through the ring of fire, beyond the last wave.

Time is not linear in this telling of the beloved Jim Kemp, an esteemed painter and father. Flashbacks give breath to what is laboured, offer iridescence to an expectation of sepia tone. The author immediately stuns upon exposing a moment of enlightenment:

Dawn begins in courtesy, day
frays us to night afraid of one more

Here where the heart is home,
sequestered in our separate

rooms behind the shade, we curl.

— from “March 2”

At the onset of Local Heroes, there is an initial segue from Penn Kemp’s The Triumph of Teresa Harris (a stage production from 2017) which afterwards splinters into historical poetry that creates a posterity of verse not only for the aforementioned Ms. Harris and the just-discussed Jim Kemp, but, by the book’s close, Souwesto giants Greg Curnoe, James Crear Reaney, Colleen Thibaudeau, James Stewart Reaney, Alice Munro, and some surprise guests at the end.

Londoners may be familiar with Teresa Harris and her family as a result of Eldon House lore. But Kemp brings to us recollections of exotic trips (India, Tibet) brought to light by alliterative, succinct, and fluent lines:

We exchange formal family high tea for rancid
yak butter tea laced with salt. My mother would
bitterly complain if she knew how far I’d left her
white linen, white skirts, white house for the peaks.

— from “The Dream Life of Teresa Harris, b.1829 d.1928, vi”

There are the stories behind the animal trophies that will placate human vanity within the Harris family hall:  the faces, horns of which will haunt the protagonist, Teresa, who is portrayed at times as clearly being classist (albeit, the norm for the day and the Empire) – nose upturned at those supposedly beneath her: Those filthy Tibetans bathe once a year and

The servants are no more than animals to me—animals
who prostrate themselves before their betters, the bedecked,
bejewelled lamas who rob the poor to paint their palaces in
lavish, garish gold. What could I possibly learn from such odd
benighted folk? I couldn’t even teach them English manners.

— from “What the Ram Said”

Stricken with dysentery and disillusioned by her half-a-world-away locale, Teresa pines for the privileges and sanctuary of her London home: I dream in the albedo of snow / of our white house gleaming / Himalayan high on the hill. // I dream in the mountain pass / of romping on our lawn, of / batting croquet balls uphill. 

It is in the complete context of the 19th-century that Teresa Harris is still a redeemable figure: in St. George’s Eulogy, her second husband (St. George Littledale) says, In those bygone Victorian days, she was easily my / intrepid equal. She eluded any ordinary boundaries // for a woman of her time and position in colonial / London society … and further on, She was my comfort. // My solace, my joy. What woman of her breeding would / have dared to scale the mountain passes that we managed?

The tributes to London’s artistic trailblazers concludes Local Heroes: Greg Curnoe and the searing image he always brings to mind—

The wheels of his bike are still
spinning orange and complementary
blue onto the page, the pavement.

And pigment on canvas, vivid as
his tattered sweater, his legacy
our heritage in old deeds …

— from “Travelling Lights”

The Reaneys are then justly championed for their literary and supportive contributions (poet/playwright James, his poet wife Colleen Thibaudeau, and their son James who recently retired after decades of covering the arts for The London Free Press). Of the late Colleen, Kemp makes her dazzle with Sea-green eyes in an Irish face observing, not to judge but / birdlike, leaping upon the treasure of salient particularity / of poets and peers …

Having just returned to London after spending a year in Huron County, I’m happy to see its Nobel Prize Laureate, Alice Munro, connected to our other local heroes – and subsequently its towns and landscapes adopted as part of our own (bringing full-circle, to me at least, the present-day laureate of poetry hailing from that region). In Alice(s) on Wonderland, Kemp says: Since she loves // ‘Alice in Wonderland,’ I’m telling / her all about Gregory Maguire’s // fanciful take, ‘After Alice.’ Then / we continue with old takes untold // of love, death, grief, and who said / what when. Until we stop history, // our way is blocked …

Kitty Lewis’ Brick Books, the late writer Bonnie Burnard, and Olympic Gold Medallists Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir are the ones that Penn Kemp has chosen to spotlight as this collection closes, perhaps begging itself for a sequel to one day come.
One haptic system rings in tune with
the other not by happenstance but by
exquisite design, creating the perfect

illusion of romance. This pair knows
their true trick is always in landing home.

— from “Mirror Neurons”

Nitpicks: both have to do with publisher choices rather than each author’s work. The font in bad animals is challenging on the eyes (at least for a spectacled reader such as myself). On the copyright page it’s stated that bad animals was printed and bound in Canada yet the very back page reveals instead that it was actually printed in the USA. Possibly the result of a late-inning switch? Local Heroes was also printed south of the border and without the meticulous care that a local printer might have taken – the typeset is quite faded, at least on my copy, and greater attention should have been provided so that only freshly-inked pages made the cut. I’d be happy to recommend a print shop that’s much closer to home should Insomniac Press be up for suggestions. Nevertheless, it’s fantastic to have Mike O’Connor and his imprint showcasing local heroes such as Penn Kemp and Tom Cull.

— Andreas Gripp

Sunday, 22 April 2018

New Official Andreas Gripp Poetry Page!

Although this Blogspot website is still in use, I have a new, fresher webpage which is

The new site will be the place to go to see what’s happening in my literary world first (including upcoming live readings). Meanwhile, this current website at Blogspot still contains all of my previous book reviews, photos, broadsides, poems, literary CV and other stuff but I hope you’ll visit the new official site that’s listed above every once in a while. Thanks!

– Andreas

Monday, 26 March 2018

Update on Broadsides Page

Brand new broadsides are being added to the revamped page which you can view here:

Hope to create many more in the near future!

Please click on the broadside above for the larger version