Born on April 3, 1948 in Victoria, B.C., poet Stephen Bett taught for many years in the English Department at Langara College. He previously taught at Columbia College from 1979-1987. He retired after a 31-year teaching career and now lives with his wife Katie in Victoria, B.C.

"My contact with a younger generation is really important to me personally and as a writer,"; he has said. "Not so much for subject, as for attitude."; His academic interests have included Postmodern American & Canadian Poetry and International Postmodern Fiction. Bett has been cited for his "Swiftian gaze outward at an absurd world."; His collection Note Bene Poems: A Journey (Ekstasis, 2005) is a set of 71 suites that follows an intense relationship between the author and "an astonishing woman artist." The serial poem identifies the couple in relation to the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice.

According to publicity materials, Extreme Positions: The Soft-Core Industry Exposed (NY: Spuyten Duyvil Books, 2009) is a soft-porn spoof. "Each poem begins with a simple blank-face, stark naked line drawing of 'boy & girl next door' figures in utterly physically impossible sexual 'positions'. Accompanying the text are witty cultural or literary allusions, a calorie burn count for 'him' & 'her,' equipment required (deodorant, etc.), cautions & hazards (such as requiring a lawyer &/or chiropractor)."

Re-Positioning: Serial Soft-Core Satire (Ekstasis Editions, 2011) is a Canadian edition reprint of the American book Extreme Positions. This Canadian version adds a review of the book and an interview about with Bett about the book in the Vancouver Courier newspaper. Publicity materials state it is "based on a hilarious soft-porn spoof. Each poem begins with a simple blank-face, stark naked line drawing of "boy & girl next door"; figures in utterly physically impossible sexual "positions."; Accompanying the text are witty cultural or literary allusions, a calorie burn count for "him"; & "her,"; equipment required (deodorant, etc.), cautions & hazards (such as requiring a lawyer and/or chiropractor). In this volume, Bett is riffing on language itself. These humorous, self-referential poems are tied to the language, the argot, not just comic satire. There's an effort at a more serious humour underlying cultural and philosophical issues that seem to plague us in our increasingly vapid monoculture."

Bett's follow-up volume Sound Off: a book of jazz (Thistledown 2013) contains his brief meditations on the work of 78 musicians, with no jazz expertise required for the reader.

In Breathing Arizona: A Journal (Ekstasis Editions $23.95), Bett's interest in "minimalist"; poetics meets his admiration of the open, ranging "journal"; poem. He writes of the edgy romance of a new beginning. REM magazine in New Zealand wrote, "Poetic minimalism is notoriously difficult to master. Yet [Bett's work] manipulates the sparse format so aptly that the outcome is a poignant expression of the tensions that exist [on the page].";

With an arresting title that is reminiscent of UBC professor Warren Tallman's title, Gawdawful Streets of Man (1978), Bett released his sixteenth collection, Those Godawful Steets of Man: A Book of Raw Wire in the City (Blaze VOX 2014).

His private papers have were acquired by Simon Fraser University Library in 2014.

BOOKS:

Lucy Kent & Other Poems (Longspoon Press, 1983)
Cruise Control (Ekstasis Editions, 1996)
High-Maintenance (Ekstasis Editions, 2003)
Trader Poets (Frog Hollow Press, 2003)
Note Bene Poems: A Journey (Ekstasis, 2005)
High Design Refit (Greenboathouse Books, 2006). Chapbook.
Three Women (Ekstasis, 2006)
Sass 'n Pass (Ekstasis, 2008)
Extreme Positions (Extreme Positions (NY: Spuyten Duyvil Books, 2009)
S PLIT (Ekstasis Editions, 2011)
Track This: A Book of Relationship (Buffalo, N.Y.: BlazeVOX Books, 2010)
The Gross & Fine Geography: New & Selected Poems (Salmon Poetry, Ireland, 2012)
Re-Positioning: Serial Soft-Core Satire (Ekstasis Editions, 2012) 978-1-897430-41-5
Sound Off: a book of jazz (Thistledown 2013) 978-1-927068-41-0 $18.95
Breathing Arizona: A Journal (Ekstasis 2014) 978-1-77171-031-2 $23.95
Those Godawful Steets of Man: A Book of Raw Wire in the City (Blaze VOX 2014). $16 U.S. 978-1-60964-200-6
The Gross & Fine Geography: New & Selected Poems (Salmon Poetry, Ireland, 2015)
Un/Wired (BlazeVOX 2016) $16 978-1-60964-253-2
Shall We Dance That One Around Again? (FinishingLinePress 2018) $14.99


[BCBW 2018] "Poetry"