PEW, Jeff

Author Tags: Poetry

What goes around, comes around. Many years ago, when bill bissett was a poetry pioneer on Fourth Avenue in Kitsilano during the so-called hippie days, he generously published many of the poets he met under an imprint he called blewointmentpress. When money problems forced him to reluctantly transfer ownership of the press decades later, it was moved to Ontario as Nightwood Editions where it specialized in jazz-related books. In the late 1990s, under the direction of Silas White, son of publisher and writer Howard White, the imprint was re-invigorated as a poetry press in Toronto, then brought back to the West Coast, having rekindled the press' original reputation for publishing yet-to-be-known writers. As an appreciation of bissett's enduring importance in Canadian literature, Jeff Pew of Kimberley, co-founder of "Poetry on the Rocks", and Stephen Roxborough of Anacortes, Washington, edited a broad sampling of writing that celebrates bissett, published in 2006 by the press he originated.


Radiant Danse Uv Being: A Poetic Portrait of bill bissett (Nightwood Editions / A blewointment book, 2006). Edited by Jeff Pew and Stephen Roxborough. $23.95 0-88971-210-7

[BCBW 2006] "Poetry"

Radiant Danse Uv Being (Nightwood $23.95)

ware wurr u wen blewointment furst up eared? If you were anywhere in the geographical and/or poetic vicinity of Kitsilano, Radiant Danse Uv Being, the new compendium/tribute to bill bissett, creator of blewointmentpress during the Sixties, will be hugely enjoyable. Expect to meet old friends as well as your own tears, sighs, giggles and inspired nostalgia. The eighty-five poets who have contributed poems and anecdotes include Margaret Avison, Sharon Thesen, both the Patricks—Lane and Friesen—Leonard Cohen, Jamie Reid, P.K. Page and Margaret Atwood (who has referred to bissett as her astral twin). Clearly bissett, who raised alternate spelling to high art and subversive eloquence, and whose life and work are already the stuff of legend, is still charming after all these years. Edited by Jeff Pew and Stephen Roxborough, the poems in this collection are as varied as the contributors; high on memory, and a little uneven as poetry. The anecdotes about bissett are remarkable. If one didn’t know these poems are describing someone who is a poet/friend, one would assume their subject is a guru, shaman, spiritual teacher, therapist, prophet or healer. The descriptive words are the elevated praise reserved for the likes of a Mandela, Ghandi, Thomas Merton and John Lennon.
Stephen Roxborough writes, “bill’s friends are among the fortunate few shown how to play inside and out, and eventually through the strings of our universe.”
Someone please advise Nightwood Editions: anyone who wrote or spoke or heard a poem in Kitsilano in the late Sixties should qualify for a free copy. Me please. 0-88971-210-7

-- Hannah Main-van der Kamp, who regularly reviews poetry from Victoria.

[BCBW 2006] "Poetry