The Alphabet Game
A bpNichol Reader
- Coach House Books
- Initial publish date
- Oct 2007
Paperback / softback
- Publish Date
- Oct 2007
- List Price
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A member of the sound-poetry collective, The Four Horsemen, winner of a Governor General's Award for Poetry and writer of Fraggle Rock, bpNichol was one of Canada's most important poets.
All of Nichol's writing is distinguished by his desire to create texts that are engaging in themselves as well as in context, and to use indirect structural and textual devices to carry meaning. The astounding range of Nichol's practice included musical theatre, children's books, comic book art and collage/assemblage. Broadly spanning the history of Nichol's work, The Alphabet Game: A bpNichol Reader includes both classics and esoteric treasures. From the early typewriter poetry of Konfessions of an Elizabethan Fan Dancer and Nichol's life-long work of poetry The Martyrology, to the heartbreaking prose of Journal and the whimsical autobiography of Selected Organs, this collection maps the literary career of this enigmatic poet.
For first-time readers of Nichol, this comprehensive collection is a perfect introduction to his groundbreaking work; for loyal Nichol fans, this reader is the the long-awaited compilation of his less readily available work.
‘His wit, along with the seriousness, was there to keep the language free and untethered, to keep the poem aware of its roots, like a tuxedo worn with bare feet in a muddy river … No other writer of our time and place was so diverse, attempted so much, and never lost sight of his intent.’ – Michael Ondaatje
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.
Lori Emerson is Marion L. Brittain Postdoctoral Fellow at The Georgia Institute of Technology’s School of Literature, Communication, and Culture. Her writing has appeared in many journals, including Postmodern Culture and Essays on Canadian Writing. Emerson has guest-edited a special double issue on bpNichol for Open Letter: A Canadian Journal of Writing and Theory, and she has made available many of Nichol’s sound poems and performances through her creation of an online audio archive for the University of Pennsylvania’s PennSound project.
Darren Wershler-Henry is Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication Studies at Wilfrid Laurier University. His most recent books are apostrophe (with Bill Kennedy) and The Iron Whim: A Fragmented History of Typewriting.
Other titles by bp Nichol
Nights on Prose Mountain
book of variations
love - zygal - art facts
parts of an autobiography
The Captain Poetry Poems
Konfessions of an Elizabethan Fan Dancer
The Critical Writings of bpNichol
A Book of Mysteries and Translations