Department of Reissue No. 4
Poetry, comic book art, pop culture, concrete poetry, the lyric, the myth of the cowboy, even the myth of the poet-hero: these are just some of the avenues explored by bpNichol in The Captain Poetry Poems. In this short portrait of the poet as a young man, our hero is a dilemma: part fabrication and part confession, Cap is a character created by these poems that extends their author into realms of possible identities. Who is Captain Poetry? Is he a poet? Is he a hero? Is he the bearer of heretofore important and unknown knowledge? Written at a time when questions about what poetry might be; when questions about what the figure of the poet might be, The Captain Poetry Poems showed Nichol grappling with some of the clichés inherent to both his craft and his identity. Playful, even at times silly, but never without the human intelligence Nichol is best known for, these poems may not be the “best” work in Nichol’s oeuvre, but their experiments reveal important considerations for poets and their approach to craft.
Originally published in 1970 as a mimeo production by bill bissett’s seminal blewointment press (the same year that Michael Ondaatje issued his documentary on Nichol titled The Sons of Captain Poetry), smatterings of The Captain Poetry Poems have appeared over the years but never in their entirety. Now, in “official book form” for the first time, along with corrections to the texts and the of material that wasn't included in the original edition, and “some words on all these words” by Nichol himself The Captain Poetry Poems Complete is available at last to scholars, poets, and other human beings alike. With an afterword by bill bissett.