While bpNichol (1944-1988) has attained iconic status in Canadian literature in recent years, particularly through his lifelong poem The Martyrology and his work in visual and sound poetry, there are numerous early "fugitive" sequences that are often referred to in critical studies, but are long out of print and only available in library special collections or in the hands of rare book collectors. bp: beginnings brings together these pre-Martyrology materials in one comprehensive collection, including such key texts as Nichol's first chapbooks Beach Head and Cycles Etc., the minimal lyric sequences The Other Side of the Room and The Journeying and the Returns, and various concrete and sound-texts such as Lament, The Year of the Frog and Ballads of the Restless Are. These collected sequences show Nichol developing his talents in both visual poetry and lyricism, pointing the way towards the union of the two forms in the later Martyrology. Combined with The Captain Poetry Poems (published by BookThug in 2011), bp: beginnings now makes all of Nichol's major poetry sequences available to both the avid Nichol specialists and to aficionados of innovative poetry everywhere.
About the authors
Wayne Clifford came to Grand Manan, New Brunswick as a permanent resident in 2007 after thirty-five years of college teaching. A former resident of Kingston, Ontario and Halifax, Nova Scotia, he and his wife, M.J. Edwards, have built a house at Rocky Corner on the Whistle Road, where she practices as an artist, and he writes more or less full-time. Author of more than a dozen poetry books and chapbooks, Wayne is also an amateur musician, artist, and award-winning designer. He holds a BA from the University of Toronto, and an MA and MFA from the prestigious international Writers' Workshop at The University of Iowa, but appreciates that his adopted home has much to teach him.
bpNichol (Barrie Phillip Nichol) was born September 30, 1944 in Vancouver, British Columbia. His writing is, by definition, engaged with what he called "borderblur": in his lifetime he wrote (somewhere between) poetry, novels, short fiction, children's books, musical scores, comic book art, collage/assemblage, and computer texts. Nichol was also an inveterate collaborator, working with the sound poetry ensemble The Four Horsemen (whose members were Nichol, Rafael Barreto-Rivera, Paul Dutton, and Steve McCaffery); Steve McCaffery as part of the Toronto Research Group (TRG); the visual artist Barbara Caruso; and countless other writers. In the mid 1980s bpNichol became a successful writer for the children's television show Fraggle Rock, produced by Jim Henson. His early work in sound was documented in Michael Ondaatje's film Sons of Captain Poetry. A second film has been made on Nichol, bp: pushing the boundaries, directed by Brian Nash; he also appears in Ron Mann's film Poetry in Motion. bpNichol died in Toronto, Ontario on September 25, 1988.
Author of three poetry collections, American Standard/Canada Dry (Coach House, 2005), Torontology (ECW, 2001), and dyslexicon (Coach House, 1999), Stephen Cain has been a literary editor at Queen Street Quarterly and is currently a fiction editor at Insomniac Press. Cain’s work has been widely anthologized. Cain lives in Toronto.
Jay MillAr’s full-length books include The Ghosts of Jay MillAr (2000), Mycological Studies (2002), and False Maps for Other Creatures (2005), and many privately published editions. Jay is the proprietor of Apollinaire’s Bookshoppe, and also runs BookThug, an independent publishing house specializing in contemporary work. He lives in Toronto with his wife Hazel and their two sons Reid and Cole.
There's so much in bp: beginnings to revisit with pleasure or to discover, oh lucky readers, for the first time. A necessary book.
- Douglas Barbour
Thanks to Cain and BookThug, readers and scholars might possibly, for the first time, really be able to dig into a period of Nichol's work that hasn't really been explored properly.
- rob mclennan
Other titles by bp Nichol
Nights on Prose Mountain
book of variations
love - zygal - art facts
parts of an autobiography
The Captain Poetry Poems
The Alphabet Game
A bpNichol Reader
Konfessions of an Elizabethan Fan Dancer
The Critical Writings of bpNichol
A Book of Mysteries and Translations