Author Tags: Art, Essentials 2010, Poetry, Publishing
"bill bissett is a one-man culture... he is a lesson to us all." -- James Reaney
"bill bissett is my astral twin" -- Margaret Atwood
"The greatest living poet today" -- Jack Kerouac on bill bissett, Paris Review
QUICK REFERENCE ENTRY:
bill bissett took off in British Columbia where Earle Birney left off. The “man-child mystic” is living proof of William Blake’s adage “the spirit of sweet delight can never be defiled.” He has written more than 60 books of poetry, all identifiable by the incorporation of his artwork and his consistently phonetic (funetik) spelling. His idealistic and ecstatic stances frequently obscure his critical-mindedness, humour and craftmanship.
Born in Halifax in 1939, bissett spent much of his teen years in hospital for treatment of an abdominal condition, peritonitis. During this period he became deeply immersed in movies, to the consternation of his father, a judge, who hoped his son would follow in his footsteps and become a lawyer. His mother died in 1953. While attending Dalhousie University in 1956, bissett ran away with a preacher's son to join the circus, ending up in Vancouver (“in either 1958 or ’59”). While the TISH poetry movement was forming at UBC, bissett, according to his Talonbooks publisher Karl Siegler, was “universally recognized as one of the grooviest, stonedest, weird freaks—one of the great Olympians of the Kitsilano hippie scene.” The first issue of his blewointment poetry magazine appeared in 1962. “in th beginning,” he writes, “othr magazeens n publishrs wud not publish us as we wer the downtown oets n mostlee vizual non linear n not cumming from aneewhere n mostlee left wing politikalee.”
From 1963 to 1965, bissett attended the University of British Columbia and met poetry professor Warren Tallman. In 1968, bissett was busted while taking marijuana to a Powell River commune. He spent several weeks at the Oakalla prison farm, plus some time in jail in Powell River, Vancouver and Burnaby. He was fined $500. Federal authorities vowed to appeal the ruling, wanting a stiffer sentence.
The major disaster—or turning point—in bissett's life occurred at a Kitsilano house party in 1969. He fell through a folding door that was supposed to be latched shut. He plummeted 20 feet to the concrete floor in the basement, severely injuring his head. bissett was paralyzed and catatonic, about to be sent for Riverview for electric shock treatments, when an interning neurologist rescued him by correctly diagnosing his inter-cerebral bleeding. After an emergency operation, bissett couldn’t communicate and he suffered from edema and aphasia (memory loss). “So I was like a write-off.” The neurologist was the only person who believed he might recuperate.
Stirred by visits from poetry comrades such as Tallman and Gerry Gilbert, bissett confounded the physicians by relearning body movements and speech with the aid of the young neurologist who brought him balls to squeeze, taught him the alphabet and insisted he try to paint again. Gradually his combination of aphasia, edema, paralysis and epilepsy abated—and bissett was able to see and paint auras. When federal authorities arrived at the hospital to serve notice of appeal within a prescribed 30-day period, the head nurse advised them bissett would be dead within a week. The case was dropped.
bissett’s poetry was the subject of a six-month brouhaha in Parliament in 1977-78 over the fact that taxpayers were subsidizing allegedly profane poetry. Tallman and Talonbooks organized benefits with poets that included Allen Ginsberg and Margaret Atwood. Since the 1990s, bissett has divided his time between the West Coast and London, Ontario (“Centralia”), where he was the vocalist for a rock group, The Luddites. As much a painter as he is a poet, bissett has largely supported himself since the 1960s by selling his paintings and reading poetry. The Vancouver Art Gallery hosted an extensive one-man show of bissett’s art, curated by Scott Watson, in 1984, called fires in th tempul. After 45 years as a writer and publisher, bissett received the George Woodcock Lifetime Achievement Award in 2007.
After 45 years as a writer and publisher, bill bissett was named the first recipient of the George Woodcock Lifetime Achievement Award for outstanding contributions to literature in British Columbia in 2007.
From a literary/historical perspective, bissett took off in British Columbia where Earle Birney left off. Fundamentally Left Coast, but more recently bi-coastal, bissett has written more than 60 books that are immediately identifiable by the incorporation of his artwork and his consistently phonetic (funetik) spelling. As an energetic "man-child mystic," bill bissett is living proof of William Blake's adage "the spirit of sweet delight can never be defiled." His idealistic and ecstatic stances frequently obscure his critical-mindedness, humour and craftmanship.
bill bissett was born in Halifax on November 23, 1939. He spent much of his teen years in hospital for treatment of an abdominal condition, peritonitis. His mother died when he was 14 in 1953. During this period he became deeply immersed in movies, to the consternation of his father, a judge, who hoped his son would follow in his footsteps and become a lawyer. While attending Dalhousie University in 1956, bissett ran away with a preacher's son to join the circus, ending up in Vancouver in 1958 ("either 1958 or '59"). In the early 1960s, bissett worked at the Vancouver Public Library and UBC Library while experimenting with language and drugs, chiefly with Lance Farrell and Martina Clinton. The latter was bissett's partner for much of the 1960s, from 1961 to 1967, and became the mother of their daughter, Oolijah, born in 1962.
While the TISH poetry movement was forming at UBC, bissett, according to his Talonbooks publisher Karl Siegler, was "universally recognized as one of the grooviest, stonedest, weird freaks--one of the great Olympians of the Kitsilano hippie scene." From 1963 to 1965, bissett also attended the University of British Columbia where he met professor Warren Tallman. During the early 1960s bissett also met fellow poets such as Patrick Lane, Judith Copithorne, Jim Brown and Maxine Gadd. In 1962, encouraged by fellow writers Robbie Sutherland and Lance Farrell, bissett randomly picked the name for his mimeograph publishing imprint, blewointmentpress, by blindly picking a word from the dictionary [dicksyunaree]. The ointment described in the dictionary entry was a medication for the treatment of crab-lice. He now recalls the first issue of his blewointment poetry magazine appear in 1962. Other early literary cohorts included Kurt Lang, with some support from Earle Birney and Dorothy Livesay.
"in th beginning," he writes, "othr magazeens n publishrs wud not publish us as we wer the downtown poets n mostlee vizual non linear n not cumming from aneewhere n mostlee left wing politikalee... so manee politikul trubuls sew manee wundrful times thousands uv dayze n nites being coverd with ink lettrs spaces within the phrases." In 1965, bissett co-founded Very Stone House with Lane, Brown and Seymour Mayne. In 1966, he published his first two books, fires in the tempul OR the jinx ship n othr trips (Very Stone House/blewointment) as well as we sleep inside each other all (bp nichol's Ganglia Press). Also in 1966, after speaking out against the Viet Nam war on a CBC-TV documentary, bissett began to be followed. He claims he was beaten up and harassed by police. Two social workers bought $800 worth of his paintings and advised him to leave town or else he and Martina Clinton wouldn't be allowed to keep their daughter.
In 1968, bissett co-founded a cooperative art gallery, Th Mandan Ghetto, with Joy Long and Gregg Simpson, and he was busted while taking marijuana to a Powell River commune. He spent a few weeks in the winter of 1968-69 at the Oakalla prison farm, plus some time in jail in Powell River, Vancouver and Burnaby. He was fined $500 but federal authorities vowed to appeal the ruling, wanting a stiffer sentence. During this period he also released a 12-inch vinyl LP, produced by Jim Brown, in conjunction with his book entitled awake in the red desert (Talonbooks).
The major disaster--or turning point--in bissett's life occurred during this period at a Kitsilano house party in 1969. Having performed earlier in the evening at a concrete poetry show, bissett fell through a folding door that was supposed to be latched shut--and plummeted 20 feet to the concrete floor in the basement, severely injuring his head. "Or at least that's what they tell me. Those brain cells have gone." (The door had been unlatched to let the cat downstairs for its milk. A two-year court case was won by the insurance company and bissett never received any compensation.)
bissett was paralyzed and catatonic, about to be sent to Riverview for electric shock treatments, when an interning neurologist rescued him by correctly diagnosing his inter-cerebral bleeding. After an emergency operation, bissett couldn't communicate and he suffered from edema and aphasia (memory loss). "So I was like a write-off." The neurologist was the only person who believed he might recuperate. Stirred by visits from poetry comrades such as Warren Tallman and Gerry Gilbert, bissett confounded the older physicians by relearning body movements and speech with the aid of the young neurologist who brought him balls to squeeze, taught him the alphabet and insisted he try to paint again. Gradually his combination of aphasia, edema, paralysis and epilepsy abated--and bissett was able to see and paint auras. The near-death experience and second long-term hospitalization heightened his appreciation for life and also spared him from returning to prison. When federal authorities arrived at the hospital to serve notice of appeal within a prescribed 30-day period, the head nurse advised them bissett would be dead within a week. Their case was dropped.
bissett's poetry was the subject of a six-month brouhaha in Parliament in 1977-78 over the fact that taxpayers were subsidizing allegedly profane poetry. A nucleus of Conservatives led by Fraser Valley West MP Bob Wenman complained to the Canada Council about grants to bissett's main publishers since the mid-1970s, Talonbooks. The controversy arose from material in a book by CJOR hotliner Ed Murphy called A Legacy of Spending in which bissett's work was reprinted without permission. "I'm a taxpayer, too," bissett later responded, "but I don't tell an engineer how to build a bridge."
Tallman and Talonbooks organized benefits with poets that included Allen Ginsberg and Margaret Atwood. bissett recalls, "th censorios n akusing buzzards wer kept at bay 4 ovr 2 yeers warren held a yeer uv huge poetree reedings dfending my self n othr poets n blewointent n othr small presses n great lawyr friend sid simons prepared writs 2 serv." Hundreds of supporters lent their names to a full-page ad in the Vancouver Sun. The defence of bissett and Talonbooks was a galvanizing factor in the emergence of the literary culture in British Columbia. Experimentation was validated and the 'arms-length' integrity of the Canada Council was reinforced. To silence their critics, bissett and Talonbooks filed suit in the Supreme Court of B.C. on June 23, 1978 against eight Conservative MPs, seven newspapers and 13 others for libel and violation of copyright, but bissett himself never benefited from the controversy. Don Precosky has provided the best journalistic summary of this literary tempest, available elsewhere on the web. He also effectively discusses how academic and mainstream critics such as Al Purdy have chronically skewered bissett with their condescending praise.
Neither bissett nor his own press received any funding from Canada Council in the year of the upheaval. Eventually Canada Council reduced funding support for blewointmentpress by 42% in 1982. bissett went into debt--again. He was exhausted. BC BookWorld publisher Alan Twigg contacted Harbour Publishing's Howard White and together they paid off bissett's creditors in order to keep blewointment afloat. bissett no longer wished to manage blewointment so Twigg and White briefly shared ownership of the imprint on an interim basis until Twigg gave away his share soon thereafter (it went to Harbour employee Marisa Alps). After 20 years of Vancouver-based activity, the press was moved to Ontario under the stewardship of White's brother-in-law, David Lee, in 1983, then subsequently moved back to B.C. as Nightwood Editions. The press continues to publish poetry, mostly by younger poets, and has been chiefly managed by Silas White.
"now publishing in bc is huge," he writes, "totalee multifasitid vigourous n prinsipuld n tho th forces against art n kultur may try 2 stamp us out we continu on with sew manee voices sew manee platforms ull uv wch is totalee necessaree 2 a civl n demokratik societee without support uv th arts a countree will sink in2 brutalitee.... th rite wing nevr sleeps."
Powers-that-try-to-be in Canada have often looked askance at bissett, as if he can't be for real, but when he's gone, we'll safely pronounce he was a national treasure. Meanwhile bill bissett has humourously written that he was "on th first shuttul uv childrn from lunaria 2 erth i was with th othr childrn combing th orange lite evree morning the main sours uv enerjee on lunaria i came 2 b heer on erth as part uv a reserch teem 2 undrstad erth wayze iuv bin heer 300 yeers in lunarian time n am getting nowher..." bissett's first collected works appeared as NOBODY OWNS TH EARTH (House of Anansi, 1971), selected by Dennis Lee and Margaret Atwood. A second collected edition was Beyond Even Faithful Legends, Selected Poems 1962-1976 (Talonbooks, 1980). He has twice won the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize (in 1993, for inkorrect thots, and in 2003, for peter among th towring boxes) and he received the Milton Acorn People's Poet Award in 1991. He was one of the Writers-in-Residence in The Capilano Review's Writing Practices Program and the Capilano College publication devoted its 25th anniversary issue to bissett in 1997, edited by Patrick Friesen, in concert with a tribute at the Vancouver Writers Festival.
Since the 1990s, bissett has divided his time between the West Coast and London, Ontario ("Centralia"), where he was the vocalist for a rock group, The Luddites. As much a painter as he is a poet, bissett has largely supported himself since the 1960s by selling his paintings and by reading poetry. The Vancouver Art Gallery hosted an extensive one-man show of bissett's art, curated by Scott Watson, in 1984, called fires in th tempul. "The magical world of the child," wrote Watson, "with all his libidinal precociousness, is what bissett is after in his painting..." That's a bit much. Sometimes he's trying to make a buck or two in order to eat. But there's no question that bissett has been one of the most original and widely appreciated poets Canada has ever produced. Following an art exhibition and performance of bissett's concrete poetry entitled The Writing on the Wall, curated by Lenore Herb, in Vancouver in 2004, editors Jeff Pew and Stephen Roxborough solicited poems for a tribute volume about bissett entitled radiant danse uv being (Nightwood, 2006), a blewointment book. Also in 2006, he was the subject of a Bravo film, heart uv a poet, written and produced by Maureen Judge. bissett has released at least five CDs. Everyone who meets him soon realizes he repeatedly uses the words "Excellent!" and "Raging!" in his conversation.
fires in the tempul OR Th Jinx ship nd othr trips: pomes, drawings, collage. Vancouver: Very Stone House, 1966.
we sleep inside each other all. Toronto: Ganglia Press. 1966
what poetiks. Vancouver: blewointmentpress, 1967.
Th Gossamer Bed Pan. Vancouver: blewointmentpress, 1967.
where is miss florence riddle? Toronto: Fleye Press, 1967; Vancouver, blewointmentpress, 1973.
heat makes th heart's window for Martina. Broadside. Toronto: Coach House Press, 1967.
lebanon voices. Toronto: Weed/Flower Press, 1967.
Gertrude Stein. Toronto: Gronk Press, 1967.
Awake in the Red Desert. Vancouver: Talonbooks, 1968.
sunday work (?) Vancouver: blewointmentpress. 1968.
Wagon wheeelsss. Broadside. Vancouver: Western Press, 1968.
Of th Land/Divine Service. Toronto: Weed/Flower Press, 1968.
liberating skies. Vancouver: blewointmentpress, 1969.
lost angel mining co. Ed. Freda Nobbs. Vancouver: blewointmentpress, 1969.
s th story i to: trew adventure. Vancouver: blewointmentpress, 1970.
tuff shit: [love pomes]. Windsor: Bandit Press, 1970.
Tell me what attackd yu. Broadside. Vancouver: Pulp Press, 197-?.
why dusint the League of Canadian Poets do sumthing nd get an organizer for cross country poetry reading circuit: [sic] press release/chapbook. Vancouver: blewointmentpress, 1970.
blew trewz. Vancouver: blewointmentpress, 1971.
dragon fly. Toronto: Weed/Flower Press, 1971.
IBM (saga uv th relees uv huuman spirit from compuewterr funckshuns) Vancouver: Blewointment Press, 1971.
drifting into war. Vancouver: Talonbooks, 1971.
Nobody owns th earth. Toronto: Anansi Press, 1971.
RUSH what fuckan thery: a study uv language. Toronto: Gronk Press, 1971.
Air 6. Vancouver: Air Press, 1971.
Th ice bag (th high green hill, polar bear hunt, words in th fire). Vancouver: Blewointment Press, 1972.
pomes for yoshi. Vancouver: blewointmentpress, 1972; Talonbooks, 1977.
Air 10-11-12. Vancouver: Air Press, 1972.
Four parts sand: concrete poems. With Earle Birney, Judith Copithorne, and Andy Suknaski. Ottawa: Oberon Press, 1972.
th first sufi line. Vancouver: blewointmentpress, 1973.
pass th food release th spirit book. Vancouver: Talonbooks, 1973.
living with the vishyun. Vancouver: New Star Books, 1974.
MEDICINE my mouth on fire. Ottawa: Oberon, 1974.
space travl. Vancouver: Air, 1974.
what. Vancouver: Blewointmentpress, 1974.
yu can eat it at th opening. Vancouver: Blewointmentpress, 1974.
Vancouver mainland ice & cold storage. London: Writer's Forum, 1974.
image being. Vancouver: Blewointmentpress, 1975.
stardust. Vancouver: Blewointmentpress, 1975.
th fifth sun. Vancouver: Blewointmentpress, 1975.
venus. Vancouver: Blewointmentpress, 1975.
an allusyn to macbeth. Coatsworth, Ont.: Black Moss P, 1976.
plutonium missing. Vancouver: Intermedia Press, 1976.
th wind up tongue. Vancouver: blewointmentpress, 1976.
Sailor. Vancouver: Talonbooks, 1978.
Sa n th monkey. Vancouver: Blewointmentpress, 1980.
selected poems: beyond even faithful legends. Ed. bill bissett. Vancouver: Talonbooks, 1980.
Soul arrow. Vancouver: Blewointmentpress, 1980.
northern birds in color. Vancouver: Talonbooks, 1981.
Sa n his crystal ball. Vancouver: Blewointmentpress, 1981.
parlant. Translated by Bertrand Lachance. Vancouver: Editions blewointment, 1982.
seagull on Yonge Street. Vancouver: Talonbooks, 1983.
Ready for framing. Vancouver: Blewointmentpress, 1983.
Write me an adventure. Toronto: Gronk Press, 1983.
Fires in th tempul. [Exhibition catalogue with poetry.] Vancouver Art Gallery, September 28 to November 18, 1984. Vancouver: Vancouver Art Gallery, 1984.
canada gees mate for life. Vancouver: Talonbooks, 1985.
animal uproar. Vancouver: Talonbooks, 1987.
what we have. Vancouver: Talonbooks, 1988.
Rezoning. Vancouver: Vancouver Art Gallery, 1989.
hard 2 beleev. Vancouver: Talonbooks, 1990.
inkorrect thots. Vancouver: Talonbooks, 1992.
th last photo uv th human soul. Vancouver: Talonbooks, 1993.
th influenza uv logik. Vancouver: Talonbooks, 1995.
loving without being vulnrabul. Vancouver: Talonbooks, 1997.
scars on the seehors. Vancouver: Talonbooks, 1999.
ekstaseez uv apricots. Writers Forum, London UK: 1999.
b leev abul char ak trs. Vancouver: Talonbooks, 2000.
peter among th towring boxes / text bites. Vancouver, Talonbooks, 2002.
narrativ enigma / rumours uv hurricane. Vancouver: Talonbooks, 2004.
ths is erth thees ar peopul. Vancouver: Talonbooks, 2007.
sublingual. Vancouver: Talonbooks, 2008.
griddle talk: a yeer uv bill n carol dewing brunch (Talonbooks, 2009)
time (Talonbooks, 2010)
novel (Talonbooks, 2011). Part fiction, with essays and poetry.
RUSH: what fuckan theory: a study uv language
(Book Thug 2012) $20 9781927040416;
hungree throat (Talon 2013) $17.95 9780889227453
off th road plus. CD with Chris Meloche, 2000.
rainbow mewsik, Red Deer Press, 2001. (CD with Chris Meloche).
unmatching phenomena, volume 1. Blue Loon Productions. (CD with Dennis Cornies), 2002.
rumours uv hurricane. Red Deer Press, 2003. (CD with Bill Roberts).
deth interrupts th dansing / a strangr space. Red Deer Press, 2005 (CD produced with Pete Dako, Sound Poetry; 40-page booklet from Talonbooks).
For a joint conversation with bill bissett and bp Nichol and interviewer Phyllis Webb, visit http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eBmxvfktZaM
bill bissett: Essays on His Works (Toronto: Guernica Editions, 2002) by Linda Rogers.
radiant danse uv being (Nightwood Editions, 2006), a blewointment book, edited by Jeff Pew and Stephen Roxborough.
Heart of a Poet (documentary film, 2006 ) by Maureen Judge (Toronto: makin' movies).
textual vishyuns: image and text in the work of bill bissett (Talonbooks 2011) by Carl Peters
scars on the seehors (Talon $15.95)
With hopefuleness and humour, bill bissett is back with scars on the seehors (Talon $15.95), spreading spiritual sanity with eccentric spelling and wry reflections. i see th salmon talks will / resume on monday / well thank god at leest th / salmon ar talking. It’s his 60th-odd book. Poem titles include ‘Life may b apokriful’ and the hilarious ‘i need a nu brain’. 0-88922-387-4
[BCBW SUMMER 1999]
bissett biography (1997)
born halifax nov23 1939 same day as gerald lampert p.k.page n billy th kid left at 17 2 go west 2 vancouvr seeking freedom from behaviour n sexual role repressyuns n 2 rage out in nu direksyuns in writing painting n living sartid blewointmentpress 64 dottr michelle born in 62 kept writing n painting n printing thru n after 3 partnerships now on my own 4 sum time 97 living in toronto painting writing dewing reedings was living part time in london ontario sins 86 til 91 sang n wrote lyriks in band luddites based in london was also living in vancouvr during thos yeers what brout me 2 ontario eye call centralia was being writr in resindens at western u have writtn ovr 50 books uv poetree manee uv them with Talonbooks wundrful publishr ium wanting 2 xtend th boundareez uv th langwage n the form still go 2 th west coast a lot whn thers work 2 dew that n live in th countree up north in th karibu a lot also its hard 2 separate biographee from bibliographee bin dwing reed ings last few yeers in europe yew s thruout canada latest art show 501 toronto august 97 modern fuel kingston 94 othr wun prson art shows vancouvr a also pizza ricos neo artisan anavada thos in vancouvr forest citee galleree london ont 88 group show rezoning vancouvr art galleree wintr 89 90 th martimes ar veree beautiful th centr is very beautiful praireez veree beautiful coastal area veree beautiful eye love going 2 all uv them n evreewher is th centr uv evreewher n not ium still wanting 2 keep lerning unlerning mor n mor in2 sound poetree fusyun poetree narrativ non narrativ politikul meta physikul spiritual as freeing from linear binaree traps cud we b next book loving without being vulnrabul recent books incorrekt thots th last photo uv th human soul what we have n seegull on yonge street all with Talonbooks most recent cassett longon life most recent cassett with luddites dreemin uv the nite still seeking freedoms from sexual n behaviour repressyuns brout abt by the cruelteez n stupiditeez uv the rite wing or the radikul left whoevr telling us that ther ar onlee thees following few wayze 2 live work n love
Radiant Danse Uv Being
What goes around, comes around. Many years ago, when bill bissett was a poetry pioneer on Fourth Avenue in Kitsilano during the so-called hippie days, he generously published many of the poets he met under an imprint he called blewointmentpress. When money problems forced him to reluctantly transfer ownership of the press decades later, it was moved to Ontario as Nightwood Editions where it specialized in jazz-related books. In the late 1990s, under the direction of Silas White, son of publisher and writer Howard White, the imprint was re-invigorated as a poetry press in Toronto, then brought back to the West Coast, having rekindled the press' original reputation for publishing yet-to-be-known writers. As an appreciation of bissett's enduring importance in Canadian literature, Jeff Pew of Kimberley, co-founder of "Poetry on the Rocks", and Stephen Roxborough of Anacortes, Washington, edited a broad sampling of writing that celebrates bissett, published in 2006 by the press he originated.
Radiant Danse Uv Being: A Poetic Portrait of bill bissett (Nightwood Editions / A blewointment book, 2006). Edited by Jeff Pew and Stephen Roxborough. $23.95 0-88971-210-7
ths is erth thees ar peopul
The quest in this latest fusion of song, sound, performance and visual poetry from bill bissett is for a human condition outside the perpetual terror of the twenty-first century—a terror based in an irrational fear that the loss of our ideologies, our home-made gods and bombs will leave us impoverished and vulnerable to the ambitions of others. “I call you again over a vast linguistic valley,” offers the poet. “The brain is a soft flower, tremulous in its aspecting, and wanting to trust, we lose what we seek and find what finds us. This is earth. These are people.”
This tireless quest to find the delight of discovery, wonder and truth in what at first sight seems foreign, mysterious and apparently “incorrect,” defines both bissett’s latest book and his singular poetic genius. The joy of discovery and recognition in our encounter with the poet’s unpunctuated, uncapitalized phonetic spelling and visual presentation offers us a reward in direct proportion to our willingness to engage the work by abandoning all of the baggage of the learned expectations we bring to the act of reading—allowing the words and their new echoes to cross the “vast linguistic valley” that is redolent with the imaginative possibility of entrances to others as they actually appear, and not as we expect them to be. As always, bissett pushes his linguistic palette here into realms that ideographically lend access to his intellectual discoveries. His introduction of an occasionally determined capital A in the middle of a word or phrase, representing “a tent on a mountain,” echoes the profound spirituality of this book, and its suggestion that “The mind is a kaleidoscope— discouragement—satisfaction—and finding the way again. There are no happy endings. Happy moments, yes. The drama and all the poetic approaches continue to be.”
$17.95 CN; $17.95 US
6 X 9 in.; 144 pp
- Talonbooks (2007)
th rite wing nevr sleeps
4 bc bookworld je 14.07
books n th snow in northern bc kabin brokn in2 books
evreewher being chased n followd in vankouvr go north
lilloett try 2 stay ther ma murray asks 2 see us from th train
arrival she xplains shes th onlee publishr ther n we best go
arriving in north bend a b dick offset masheen dew th huge
occupaysyun issew ther printing hair got caut in th rollrs askd 2
leev go north uv 100 mile stay ther in th bush print print
gestetnr colate stapul ice bag dun ther stay a whil print thn
books by ken west maxine gadd beth jankola jw curry manee
othrs n antholojee magazeen issews hundrids uv writrs hundrids
uv books gestetnr sumhow ancient silk skreen ink going thru
th cut lettrs in th stencil cathy ford candas jane dorsey steven
miller sew manee othrs whn n how did it all start n how did it
finish n what wer sum hi points wch changing galaxee was it
in how did blewointment press get its name
ther wer a numbr uv us poets writrs artists who nowun wud
publish aneewher in th world sew robbee suthrland n lance
farrell n me talking ths selekt a name go thru th dicksyunaree
random fingr fall wher it may blue ointment 1962 first issew
honouring in search of innosence moovee abt artists in
vancouvr len fourrier/jack long nfb producksyun contribs joy
long martina clinton maxine gadd judith copithorne kurt lang
mor n mor 2 cum angels earle birney n dorothy livesay helpd
out gestetnr ink papr universitee peopul wudint give us papr
or supplies we wer mostlee on welfare n 4 me that startid a
twentee yeer publishing adventur printing kollating n stapuling with
in successyun martina clinton bertrand lachance n alan rosen n
oftn by myself n thru all thos yeers angel printr downtown van
kouvr printr george priestman printid th covrs veree oftn even
shulee th insides as things got bettr n it nevr felt like twentee
yeers at th time
th summr 65 issew th yello issew th end uv th world speshul
wch was much latr manee othr antholojeez stan bevington sent
giant amount uv papr by train a gift from toronto blewointpress
was printing manee othr writrs david uu bpNichol d.a.levy gladys
hindmarch rosemary hollingshead al neil margaret atwood
diane di prima pat lowthr gwendolyn macewen evree day printing
kolating stapuling selekting hart broudy lionel kearns dr. wagner
carolyn zonailo my first book we sleep inside each othr all 1965
by bpNichol ganglia press toronto koinsident with fires in th tempul
blewointmentpress /very stone hous ko producksyun th lattr with patrick
lane n jim brown n seymour mayne who each produsd theyr own books
thru very stone house as well as pat lowthr n othrs sew much publish
ing going on th beginnings thn alredee startid thanks 2 th canada council
n all uv us involvd what was nothing a few yeers previous bcame a
veree alive n huge industree involving thousands uv peopul working
in th beginning othr magazeens n publishrs wud not publish us as we
wer th downtown poets n mostlee vizual non linear n not cumming
from aneewher n mostlee left wing politikalee in 1970 blewointment
reseevd a small canada council grant n each yeer slite inkreeses pr
formd in tandem with th nu needs bettr producksyun valus evn bound
books wer cumming out uv blewointmentpress thn in 1980 approx th
block grant was cut ths was part uv th life boating uv th small presses
n i went mor in2 solo work rathr thn kollektiv work th emphasis changing
always still wanting 2 b part uv freeing th word th image n thus freeing
th mnd n spirit
sew manee politikul trubuls keep on printing sew manee wundrful times
thousands uv dayze n nites being coverd with ink lettrs spaces within
th phrases i lovd it returning th writing mor 2 konversaysyunal n mor ekstatik
speech its reelee hard 2 beleev th amayzing twentee yeers wun epik sirtinlee
around 1979 ed murphy hot line show guy startid blasting me n blew
ointmentpress n talonbooks he publishd a book legasy of waste in
govrnment spending an erlee beginning uv th rite wing rise 2 powr
printing pomes by me wch wer not pd 4 i startid reseeving hate calls
ther wer othr items in th pile up rite wing mps etsetera across th countree
heer mor angels apeerd great lawyr frend sid simons n warren tallman
th censorious n akusing buzzards wer kept at bay by sid n warren 4 ovr
2 yeers warren held a yeer uv huge poetree reedings dfending my self n
othr poets n blewointment n othr small presses sid simons prepared writs
2 serv we survivd bcoz uv thees angels n evreewun being sew supportiv
it was awesum sew much work sew much struggul endurans 2 keep
above watr now publishing in bc is huge totalee multifasitid vigourous
n prinsipuld n tho th forces against art n kultur may try 2 stamp us out we
continu on with sew mane voices sew manee platforms all uv wch is
totalee necessaree 2 a civil n demokratik societee without support uv
th arts a countree will sink in2 brutalitee n brutalitee is always redee 2
lunch on a countree sum uv th rite wing accusrs did jail time veree
surprizing was it stoln emeralds as they wer sew upstanding evn
riteshusthey say uv themselvs th rite wing nevr sleeps
by bill bissett 4 bc bookworld je 14.07
Chemical Brothers connection
Press Release (2007)
World-renowned electronic music wizards The Chemical Brothers know cool. That's why they sampled legendary Canadian poet bill bissett on the title track of their latest release, We Are the Night. bissett is heard hypnotically reciting "we are the night's eyes" from his 1967 recording, an ode to d.a. levy.
bill bissett has been a landmark on the Canadian literary scene since the 1960s, renowned as much for his fascinating life as for his poetics. He is best known for his anti-conventional poetry, which makes use of phonetic spelling and visual elements, and for his performances of concrete sound, chanting, and dancing during poetry readings.
Throughout his life, bissett has attracted a host of admirers and not just from the counterculture movement. Poets of all styles are fans of his work, including Margaret Atwood, George Bowering, Di Brandt, Leonard Cohen, Lorna Crozier, Patrick Lane, bp Nichol, Steve McCaffery, Jay MillAr, PK Page, and Darren Wershler-Henry.
-- Harbour Publishing
The ever-fertile bill bissett has returned for his second extended “novel-poem”, hungree throat (Talon $17.95), in which he recounts the ten-year relationship of two men as a meditation on love. Whereas one man is bold and unafraid, the other is burdened by terrible memories and unable to trust. bissett is now beyond seventy books—and not counting… 9780889227453