bp Nichol

June 15, 2012


Poetry is the most accessible of the arts. If you’re literate. Painting and music go directly to the senses. To fully appreciate them we sometimes have to investigate the culture they came from. But poetry is a code, like all written material, even cooking instructions. Sometimes we get caught up in the nuances of the code. We call it English 305.

Concrete poetry or shape poetry is poetry in which the typographical arrangement of words is as important in conveying the intended effect as the conventional elements of the poem, such as meaning of words, rhythm, rhyme and so on.

It is sometimes referred to as visual poetry, a term that has evolved to have distinct meaning of its own, but which shares the distinction of being poetry in which the visual elements are as important as the text.

I got caught up in a visual sense of poetry myself never realizing that I was part of a poetry movement. (1960s in Toronto) I never considered what I did concrete poetry. bp Nichol along with Rafael Barreto-Rivera, Paul Dutton, and Steve McCaffery, formed The Four Horsemen. They were out there. On the edge.

I never liked their work. God, I tried. But I found it humorless even though the 4 poets were not. It was pretentious as is a lot of poetry from young poets. And worse, boring.

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