Ken Belford's career has spanned six decades and three lives. The Answer to Everything collects Belford's poetry of the 1960s in Vancouver, his "lan(d)guage" poetry of the early 2000s influenced by his time on remote Blackwater Lake, and his more political-charged poetry of the last decade while he lived in Prince George. This collection allows readers to discover or reflect on Ken's unique and challenging work, seeing patterns and themes in his poetics as they evolved out of his TISH-influenced poetry and into more contemporary dialogues where Belford seemingly establishes a poetic school of his own.
The collection has been organized chronologically, setting foundational texts from his earlier work next to his celebrated recent books that concretized his distinct poetic sensibilities. This remarkable collection is assembled based on Belford's wishes by those close to him as a definitive record of his life's work.
Ken Belford was born in Alberta and grew up in Vancouver. From 1970-2005 he, along with his wife and daughter, operated a non-consumptive ecotourism lodge in the unroaded mountains around Blackwater Lake near the headwaters of the Nass and Skeena Rivers. The "self-educated lan(d)guage" poet has said that living for decades in the mountains has afforded him a unique relationship to language that rejects the colonial impulse to write "nature poetry," but speaks from the outside, from the regions of the 'other'. "The conventional standards of narrative and lyric poetry give me nothing. The intention of the sequences I write is to assemble words that can be messaged to the habituated souls of the city from the land-aware that live outside city limits." Spending his last years in Prince George, British Columbia, with his activist wife, Si Transken, Belford continued to challenge the boundaries of the conventional forms of the various schools of poetry, and maintained dialogues with many poets in Canada and America. His eight books of poetry are Fireweed, The Post Electric Caveman, Pathways Into the Mountains, lan(d)guage, ecologue, Decompositions, Internodes and slick reckoning.