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. Numerous early “fugitive” sequences of Nichol’s 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 his 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 of 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 visual poetry and lyricism, pointing the way towards the union of the two forms in the later Martyrology. Combined with The Captain Poetry Poems, 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.
Watch the Book Launch and Panel:
“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 for Eclectic Ruckus
“Thanks to Cain and Book*hug, 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
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.
Stephen Cain is the author of I Can Say Interpellation (2011) and three earlier poetry collections: American Standard/Canada Dry (2005), Torontology (2001), and dyslexicon (1998). He also composed a collaborative series of micro-fictions, Double Helix (2006) with Jay MillAr, and co-authored The Encyclopedia of Fictional and Fantastic Languages (2006) with Tim Conley. The former literary editor of the Queen Street Quarterly, and former fiction editor at Insomniac Press, Cain lives in Toronto where he teaches avant-garde and Canadian literature at York University.