Carl Peters (who teaches English, Creative Writing, Visual Arts and Art History) has written the first book-length critical analysis of poet bill bissett’s work.
Although internationally recognized as a pioneer of visual, concrete, sound, and performance poetry, few critics recognize bill bissett’s work in the visual arts to be of equal aesthetic importance — very little critical work exists on his poetry, and almost no theoretical discourse exists on his visual work.
Drawing primarily from statements and manifestos of aesthetic theory by practitioners of the major modernist movements of impressionism, cubism, fauvism, surrealism, and abstract expressionism in the visual arts; the poetics of Gertrude Stein, William Burroughs, Charles Olson, and bpNichol; and the experimental films of Andy Warhol, Stan Brakhage, David Lynch, and David Cronenberg, here, finally, is a book that locates bissett’s textual and visual artistic praxis within the larger context of the history, theory, and practice of art.
Peters wrote his MA thesis on bp Nichol and the Kabbalah and his doctoral thesis on Nichol and the practice of the sacred. Dr. Peters teaches poetics and avant-garde art at UFV. He is currently working on an annotated study of Gertrude Stein.
“Carl Peters has written — nay produced! — an astonishing book on how bill bissett thinks within his art. Here is a discovery of poetic space and time coming together, where we glean time and space entering into empathy with the object. Peters’ learned awareness of the image’s relationship to bissett’s surreal vulnerability to surface and depth reveals the graphic touch of the voice and hand, whether on paper or canvas. In Peters’ eye and mind images are touched by voice to the letters on the page. We glimpse through film shots Magritte and Malevich-views that illuminate the intimate in the eye and ear of the beholder. This is an aesthetic right at home in its sensual perception of the uncanniness of these times. Textual vishyuns is not only a book on bill bissett, but also a way of bringing modernist thought and vision together without taking either apart.”
“Carl Peters has pulled off a terrific critical irony for our neomodal time, the first scholarly study of bill bissett’s poems and pictures. His referentiality is wide and his blade is sharp. He is both argumentative and blissful. I’d say that bill is fortunate to have this knowledgeable attentiveness, and I’d guess that he would agree.”
More on bill bissett:
Born and raised in Halifax, bill bissett really did run away from home to join a circus when he was seventeen, arriving in Vancouver in 1958. In the 1960s, bissett garnered international attention as a pre-eminent figure of the counter-culture movement in Canada and the U.K. In 1964, bissett founded blewointment press, which published the works of bpNichol and Steve McCaffery, among others. A pioneer of sound, visual and performance poetry, bissett composes his poems as scripts for pure performance and has consistently worked to extend the boundaries of language and visual image, honing a synthesis of the two in the medium of concrete poetry.
More information on bill’s life and work at: