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.
The Captain Poetry Poems Complete demonstrates everything worthwhile about Nichol: his free-agent sensibility, his bemused distance from the mainstream-verse universe and its “umpteenth poem on me and mom,” his belief that joy could infiltrate poetic conventions and eat away at their genetic structure. – Carmine Starnino
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.
bpNichol is best known as the author of the life-long poem The Martyrology, which was begun in the early 1970s and ended in 1988 with Nichol’s death. Active at all levels of book production ranging from his work with the Coach House Press to his belief that “no press is too small,” he also published thousands of smallpress artifacts, of which The Captain Poetry Poems is a fine example.
Department of Reissue No. 4
88 pages | 7x10 inches | paperback
ISBN 1897388608 | 9781897388600