bpNichol — 25 Years Already!

bpnicholIt takes my breath away to think that today is the 25th anniversary of bp nichol’s passing — I still exactly remember the moment he stepped on stage at one of the great Polyphonix sound poetry festivals in Paris, introduced (if memory serves) by Jean-Jacques Lebel, sometime in the very late 70s or very early 80s. I often think of him as “The Renaissance Canadian” poet — poet, writer, performer, translator extraordinaire. I’ll take an hour or two today to dip into the latest coach house books production by bp, a book of variations / love —zygal—art facts (edited by Styephen Voyce) which came out this past spring.

The dedication of the section (a book in its own write, earlier) called zygal – a book of mysteries and translations has always been for me a powerful (& wonderfully puzzling) statement:

whatever the dream of numbers means

whatever the slumber that is never broken

the spoken word & the written

together end the spell


Here, the info for

a book of variations

ISBN-10: 1552452727
ISBN-13: 9781552452721
392 pp, Paperback
May 9 2013
$23.95 CAD
love – zygal – art facts
Edited by

The range of bpNichol’s output is unparalleled, the reach of his curiosity, wit and inventiveness, immeasurable. Concrete poetry, novels, comics, sound poetry and even a television show, Fraggle Rock – it’s his eclecticism and love of ‘borderblur’ that make bp so unique.

The perfect counterpoint to his acclaimed nine-volume long poem,The Martyrology, the three long-lost classics contained in a book of variations showcase Nichol’s diverse, sprawling imagination. Placing love: a book of remembranceszygal: a book of mysteries and translations and art facts: a book of contexts side by side, as they were meant to be, this fun and ephemeral collection may prove to be Nichol’s most lasting and important contribution to poetry.

‘bpNichol was, and still is, the essential poet for so many of us.’ – Michael Ondaatje

‘This is bpNichol at his young, whimsical, charming, sweet, magical, formally inventive, childlike, zany, fecund, h-h-h-heavenly best. A total delight from beginning to beginning again.’ — Charles Bernstein

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4 Responses

  1. Poo says:

    There is a street in Toronto named after him. It is located in the Annex, so-named as it was the first bit of land annexed by the city of Toronto in 1887. The village of Yorkville, for those interested, joined up willingly in 1883. For those further interested, I have lived in the Annex on 2 separate occasions during, the 70s and the 90s. It is a desirable area for many reasons and the unofficial boundaries keep stretching as a result. Additional info available on request.! bpNichol Lane runs behind Coach House Press. An 8 line bpNichol poem is carved into the pavement:

    “A / LAKE / A / LANE / A / LINE / A / LONE”.

    Rumor has it that an employee of Coach House regularly waters the word “LAKE.” A nice thought regardless of its veracity.

  2. Jeff Hansen says:

    Thanks for this. BP is a poet I’ve “dipped” into (see above comment about “lake”), but I need to go further.

    • Thanks, Pierre, and all. As publisher of the original book of one third of that work, Pierre, I am glad you are reading it, and what an amazing pleasure it was to know bp and his work, to visit him in Toronto, to host him in Tucson, to walk that bpNichol Lane in Toronto, to still read his work.

  3. David Rosenberg says:

    Hi Pierre, I’m alerted to your response to The M reading up in Toronto. I’m neither there nor much on Facebook, but I want to alert you further to the new website: akabpnichol.net
    In addition to link to bp himself reading The M, there’s my 1rst of a series of essays on those tapes, plus, under “more”, some bp issues of Open Letter devoted to the work. So there’s alot more going on in the soul bp left us… much warmth, David

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