Poetry, comic book art, pop culture, concrete poetry, the lyric, the myth of the cowboy, even the myth of the poet-hero: these are just some of the avenues explored by bpNichol in The Captain Poetry Poems. In this short portrait of the poet as a young man, our hero is a dilemma: part fabrication and part confession, Cap is a character created by these poems that extends their author into realms of possible identities. Who is he? Is he a poet? Is he a hero? Is he the bearer of heretofore important and unknown knowledge about the world? Written at a time when questions about what poetry might be; when questions about what the figure of the poet might be, The Captain Poetry Poems shows Nichol working through some of the clichŽs inherant to both his craft and his identity. Playful, even at times silly, but never without the human intelligence Nichol is best known for, these poems may not be the "best" work in Nichol's oeuvre, but their experiments reveal important considerations for poets and their approach to craft.
Originally published in 1970 as a mimeo production by bill bissett's seminal blewointment press (the same year that Michael Ondaatje issued his documentary on Nichol titled The Sons of Captain Poetry), smatterings of The Captain Poetry Poems have appeared over the years but never in their entirety. Now, in "official book form" for the first time, these poems will at last be available to scholars, poets, and other fine human beings. With an introduction by bill bissett and an afterword by George Bowering.
bpNichol was the author of numerous books of poetry, including In England Now That Spring (co-authored with Steve McCaffery), Truth: A Book of Fictions and nine volumes of The Martyrology, as well as four novels, several books for children and one collection of short fiction. A founding member of the sound poetry quartet The Four Horsemen, Nichol was recognized internationally as one of the majoravant-garde writers of his time. Besides his small press and magazine editorial activities (including Ganglia, grOnk and Underwhich Editions), he was a great collaborator with many artists in the areas of writing, sound poetry performance, and linguistic research.
bill bissett opened Canadian poetry to postmodernism and from there proceeded in every direction all at once. Since his invention of the blewointment press in 1963, bissett has worked diligently to explode all boundaries of author, text, and context, radically disrupting static and disciplinary modes of art making. Read, taught, studied, and imitated all around the world, he now lives in Toronto, painting and writing somewhere between painting and poetry.
derek beaulieu is the author 9 books of poetry and conceptual fiction, editor of the acclaimed small presses housepress and No Press and co-editor of Writing Surfaces: the Selected Fiction of John Riddell (2013). He is an instructor at Mount Royal University and the Alberta College of Art + Design. beaulieu's Seen of the Crime: Essays on Conceptual Writing was published in 2011.
Gregory Betts is the Director of Canadian Studies and the Graduate Program Director of Canadian and American Studies at Brock University. He is the author of five books of poetry, and the editor of four books of experimental Canadian writing. His monograph Avant-Garde Canadian Literature: The Early Manifestations is forthcoming from the University of Toronto Press.
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