The American Book Review pays tribute to bpNichol and The Alphabet Game

Aleph to Zed
By Vanessa Place
American Book Review
May 1 2009

Excerpted from the print review:

Reading from aleph to zed prompts nostalgia. Not for a time when such poems were written, for bpNichol was a reverse lightning-rod, drawing energy from all corners and shooting off illumination to all avant corners: visual poetry, sound poetry, the poet as machine, the new masculinist lyric. (To hear some of the sound, go to ubuweb and PennSound.) But nostalgia for a time when words were real objects, capable as cake of being put in the mouth, and to the same toothsome end. When 'no means no' meant, actually, 'no,' not an actual nothing, when Steve McCaffery could write in his book with bpNichol, Rational Geomancy: The Kids of the Book-Machine: The Collected Research Reports of the Toronto Research Group 1973-1982 (1992), that 'The language act is also an act of survival. Word order = world order.' What Jacques Rancière posited, bpNichol posted: art is politics. And so bpNichol knew that poems—no matter the guise—are sermons and sculptures, obligingly dragging along their own now and negative space. Much of what bpNichol started has become less than the lesson he might have wished, as sound poets elide the text to the ear, vis po focuses on the eye, and the new masculinist lyrics ruminates on Jean Baudrillard and the bowling shoe. This is a very good book to have for rebeginning.

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