The publication of bill bissett’s Rush: what fuckan theory; a study uv language in 1972 firmly ushered Canadian poetics into the postmodern era. Out of print for 40 years—and reissued here complete with an interview with bissett about the book's creation and a critical afterword by derek beaulieu and Gregory Betts—Rush embodies a collagist, multi-conscious approach to art that recognizes no division between the work and the world; the author and his sexuality, his breath, his influences; the theory and the practice. Arguing that “a new line has started,” Rush captures the urgency of a new model of production that resists the closure and mastery of any one mind. It is an elegant rejection of aesthetic ego and all presumptions of authority. Rush: what fuckan theory; a study uv language is a vital, vocal protest against business as usual and the exploitation of the individual from one of Canada's most important avant-garde poets.
Watch the Book Launch and Reading:
Praise for RUSH:
“At a time when pictures are read more than books, where every writer is a (tele)phone and every reader a designer, RUSH: what fuckan theory is instantly recognizable and therefore an important reminder of an era when Poetry, Music, Painting, and Dance hung out together, spoke the same language, argued, made plans. To no longer have to visit a research library to read this book is a convenience; to have it in this expanded form (supplemented by bissett’s first blewointment poem-editorial, an interview with the author, and a context-setting Afterword by its editors), is a pleasure. Educators: please add this book! RUSH is as important to an understanding of intermedial literary activity in Canada as Atwood’s Survival: A Thematic Guide to Canadian Literature was to the winnowing of that literature towards its end-stage commodified form.” —Michael Turner
“There is no teacher in the world like bill bissett. His is the theory of both/and, of letting Spirit guide his pen, his heart, and his life. This, we find most moving, most inspiring, most freeing. I’d follow bill anywhere.” —Elizabeth Bachinsky
“In RUSH, bill bissett dances nimbly away from that which may oppress us through language: genteel spelling, the chains of punctuation, the military precision of the left margin. This is a provocative book, yes, but also at times erotic, rude, cheeky, electric; always it is deeply moving, for this writing embodies the freedom of which bissett writes. With the joy of someone who has escaped from something terrible, bissett’s exuberance gives us permission to slip out of our ho-hum, safely indoors writing into a dazzling, dizzyingly bright day. As relevant today as it was when first it was published, the editors’ interview and essay offers some generous pathways into the text—and to the energetic force that is bill bissett.” —Sachiko Murakami
“bissett’s work retains its radical critique … If you want to understand Canadian literature, you have to read bissett’s RUSH: what fuckan theory.” —University of Toronto Quarterly
“bill bissett’s poetry is based on principles that every poet should profess—two of these being a refusal of convention for the sake of convention and a refusal to define poetry specifically other than in terms of freedom.” —Arc Poetry Magazine
bill bissett speaks with Open Book Toronto
bill bissett opened Canadian poetry to postmodernism and from there proceeded in every direction all at once. Since his invention of the blewointment press in 1963, bissett has worked diligently to explode all boundaries of author, text, and context, radically disrupting static and disciplinary modes of art making. Read, taught, studied, and imitated all around the world, he now lives in Toronto, painting and writing somewhere between painting and poetry.
derek beaulieu is the author of nine books of poetry and conceptual fiction, editor of the acclaimed small presses housepress and No Press. He is an instructor at Mount Royal University and the Alberta College of Art + Design.
Gregory Betts is the Director of Canadian Studies and the Graduate Program Director of Canadian and American Studies at Brock University. He is the author of five books of poetry, and the editor of four books of experimental Canadian writing.