First Screening


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bpNichol (1944–1988) created a vast and intricate body of work that stretches from Fraggle Rock and The Raccoons to comic books, from delicate visual poems to a nine-volume, life-long epic. Nichol was awarded the Governor General’s Award in 1970 and spent decades exploring the ‘borderblur’ between image and text, sound, prose, and poetry – including some of the world’s first computer- animated poems. In a career known for collaboration and innovation, bpNichol’s writing continues to be generative and generous. Nichol’s The Martyrology Books 1&2, The Martyrology Book 3&4, The Martyrology Book 5, The Martyrology Book 6 Books, Gifts: The Martyrology Book(s) 7&, Ad Sanctos: The Martyrology Book 9, zygal: a book of Mysteries and Translations, Konfessions of an Elizabethan Fan Dancer, The Alphabet Game, and a book of variations: love – zygal – art facts all remain in print from Coach House Books.

Our featured poem First Screening was originally available on a 5.5" floppy disk and is now available via YouTube. It is not available in this book, however, all of Nichol's writing is distinguished by his desire to create texts that are engaging in themselves as well as in context, and to use indirect structural and textual devices to carry meaning. The astounding range of Nichol's practice included musical theatre, children's books, comic book art and collage/assemblage. Broadly spanning the history of Nichol's work, The Alphabet Game: A bpNichol Reader includes both classics and esoteric treasures. From the early typewriter poetry of Konfessions of an Elizabethan Fan Dancer and Nichol's life-long work of poetry The Martyrology, to the heartbreaking prose of Journal and the whimsical autobiography of Selected Organs, this collection maps the literary career of this enigmatic poet.

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