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Repeating Pressures

Repeating Pressures

McEwans’s 2013’s repeater (a finalist for the 2013 Gerald Lampert Memorial Award), used a series of ascii codes (which associates an integer value for each symbol in the character set – letters, digits, punctuation marks etc.) to create a code book, “I really liked the idea of a poetry book as a code book,” he explained. “repeater felt like a moment of writing, but it didn’t feel particularly personal. I was interested in a concept, but I wasn’t personally invested in it emotionally.

“So, If Pressed started with depression,” McEwan said. “I’ve dealt with it my whole life and this book started, predictably, in a low point in my life when I wasn’t sure what I was doing.”

From depression, McEwan moved to the word ‘pressure’ and created a striking body of art that takes the reader through McEwan’s mind and the research he put into the work.
With If Pressed, McEwan tackled the word ‘pressure’ in several different ways – economic, physical and environmental. “Depression goes into pressure and anxiety is definitely tied up in that. I was interested in the way language describes pressure but also becomes an environment that pressurizes things.”

He then began researching and writing and ultimately created a book that takes the reader through 10 different chapters, one of which that keeps remains a constant throughout.

Of Matters Diverse and Confused Sect. 1-5 uses the language from Robert Burton’s Anatomy of Melancholy as well as other seventeeth and eighteenth century texts to create something new, modern and interesting. Spreading Sheets features weather statements describing the fog from when McEwan lived in Vancouver. Another talks about the Chemical Valley in Sarnia titled, What We Call Vacuity, and other topics speak to the mid-2000’s financial crisis and recession and pharmaceutical sales pitches Crystal Healing.

In Spring 2019, McEwan will be publishing his third colection, titled Tours, Variously which will focus on “the way that language forms a space that we inhabit, but also is also used to describe how we inhabit space,” he explained. “I like to think of it as a tour guide that takes you through a gallery that the language is happening in. The book works through space and architecture and about how we react to our physical environments.”

McEwan is the author of repeater (Book Thug, 2013) and If Pressed (Book Thug, 2017) as well as several chapbooks. His poetry and writing have appeared in Canadian Literature, Lemon Hound and Open Letter.


“Review” transcribes and arranges sentences mined from Google results for the phrase “this book is depressing.” The poem became the basis for the @Un_Review twitter bot, which was programmed to retweet any tweet in which the phrase “this book is depressing” appeared. The twitter bot created a live-updating poem that ran for about half of a year until it crashed in 2015.

This book is depressing, from beginning to end.
This book is so depressing why do I keep reading it
This book is actually depressing as hell, why did I have to choose this one
This book is really depressing! I need to stop but I can’t
This book is so depressing yet interesting..
Can’t tell if this book is depressing or if I’m just sad
This book is really depressing and idk if I have the energy for it right now
This book is so depressing I love depressing books
this book is very depressing and I never want to go outside again.
Fukk this book is pretty depressing
This book is depressing haha
this book is so depressing.. i get exhausted reading even only a page or two.
This book is more depressing than I remember??? Maybe its just me..
*sigh* lol this book is depressing
This book is depressing & anticlimactic.
this book is so depressing. i hate summer reading
This book is so depressing but it feels good to read it
This book is depressing i like it. ooo by the way. I’ve been diagnosed with depression 🙂
This book is getting so depressing I don’t even want to read it anymore. Not when everything else is bad too.
This book is too depressing, don’t think ill finish it.

Courtesy of Andrew McEwan

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