Better break out your sledgehammer – it's time for a little concrete! Concrete poetry, that is. Concrete what? Well, it's poetry that's a lot like art – its meaning comes from what it looks like instead of the order of the words, so it's full of great visual puns and word puzzles. And one of its foremost practitioners is bpNichol, one of Canada's best experimental writers.
Konfessions of an Elizabethan Fan Dancer is Nichol's very first book. Originally published in England by Bob Cobbing in 1967, and then in Canada in 1973 by Nelson Ball's Weed/Flower Press, it has been unavailable for a dog's age. This new edition, curated by poet and antiquarian bookseller Nelson Ball, redresses this wrong. One of the few Nichol books that is dedicated entirely to concrete poetry, Konfessions is, like all of Nichol's work, playful, sincere, explorative, intelligent and human.
About the author
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.