|bpNichol. His name is spoken with reverence in literary circles. Best known for his nine-book long poem, The Martyrology, Nichol is one of the single greatest influences on contemporary Canadian poetry. Though his career was cut tragically short with his death in 1988 at age 43, his creative output was so vast that even to catalogue it would be a lifetime of work. Thats exactly what Ottawa poet and publisher jwcurry has been doing for the past 30 years.
"As a kid, I was drawn to bps work for the simplest reason: at the library, all the books had white pages. I found one of his books, the pages were purple," curry remembers. "I opened it up, and there were drawings and swear words, and it blew my mind, but when I went back to the library to get more of his work, they didnt have any." Undeterred, he opened up a Toronto phone book. "He was listed! I called him up, expecting to get a secretary or something, but he answered. I asked him where I could find more of his stuff, he told me, and that was that." Thus began a mammoth collection of all things bp that slowly transformed into an epic project: a full bibliography of Nichols work.
A Beepliographic Cyclopoedia will be an estimated 4,000 pages, split into eight volumes, seeking to document not only everything that Nichol created, but everything written about, inspired by or in tribute to him. As if that werent enough, curry plans to transcribe 26 copies of the book (one for each letter of the alphabet) on a typewriter, creating a series of highly prized art objects. "When bp died, his creative estate was split between two publishing houses," says curry. "I was one of them, so I have a lot of material. That means, on a page where I describe a piece of ephemera, I can actually include the object. Each copy of the book will be truly one-of-a-kind."
Naturally, the project will take awhile to complete, and meanwhile curry needs to buy groceries. In support of his project, local poet Laurie Fuhr has put together a fundraiser. Holy Beep! features readings by derek beaulieu, Christian Bök and Natalie Zina Walschots, music by Axis of Conversation, Chris Ewart, The Jagatha Christies, Lonely Hunters, Jon McKiel and Travis Murphy, and a limited edition, bp-influenced chapbook. The event hits Broken City on July 20, 7 p.m., minimum donation of $8.
curry will be in town for the event and, while hes here, he plans to perform a full-length set of sound poetry. Its rumoured to take place on Saturday, July 21, time and place TBA. Full details will be announced at Holy Beep! and www.myspace.com/holybeep.
Since 2005, the Martin Press has published 15 chapbooks and several pieces of ephemera, but now publisher Jonathan Ball bids adieu to his beloved micropress with a "best-of" reading, featuring Martin authors derek beaulieu and ryan fitzpatrick at McNally Robinson on July 19, 6 p.m.
Springing out of the multi-disciplinary art series, the first-ever Thought Express Festival runs July 19 to 22, encompassing poetry, dance, music, fashion and more. The poetry events include readings by Shone Abet, Brian Batista, Möe Clark, Jocelyn Grossé, Orunamamu, Sabo and Micah Stone at the Auburn Saloon on July 20, 7 p.m.; Christian Bök, Emily Elder, Chris Gilpin, Sean McGarragle, Fernando Raguero, Jesse Switzer and Magpie Ulysses alongside the afternoon jazz jam at Broken City on July 21, 3 p.m., joined by Möe Clark, James Dangerous and Melanie Haywood at 8 p.m.; then closing off with Wakefield Brewster and Sabo at Tequila Nightclub on July 22, 8 p.m. Prices vary. Visit www.myspace.com/thoughtexpress for more information.
In case you hadnt heard, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows is released this week! Bookstores across the city (and around the world) will keep their doors open late on July 20 for a midnight release of J.K. Rowlings blockbuster, but the place to be on Friday evening is undoubtedly McNally Robinson. From 10 p.m. to 12:15 a.m., Stephen Avenue transforms into Diagon Alley, where families can enjoy classes on Care of Magical Creatures, Defense Against the Dark Arts, Divination and Transfiguration, or enjoy spectacular circus acts by Velocity Motion Werks. Theres also crafts, music, treats and trivia, and if you show up in costume, you could nab a prize! Books will go on sale at 12:01 a.m. and pre-purchase vouchers (with a 30 per cent discount) are available now.
(My prediction: Ron bites it. Cmon, "death" is right in the title!)
The Literary Journalism Conversations series continues with "How Much of This is True?", a talk by Wayne Johnston (author of The Colony of Unrequited Dreams and contributing editor to The Walrus) about the subjectivity of "truth" and "facts." He speaks at The Banff Centres Rolston Recital Hall on July 23, 8 p.m.
Slice: Health Inspired Food is Barb Davies and Jennifer Rallisons latest contribution to the field of health cookbooks, and they share some recipes at McNally Robinson on July 26, noon. As an extra bonus, selected dishes from the book will be featured at the bookstores Prairie Ink Restaurant from July 23 to 29.
The Calgary Folk Music Festival is upon us, and this years blazing-hot lineup includes spoken word trio TOFU (Tons of Fun University). C.R. Avery, Shane Koyczan and Mike McGee hit Princes Island Park three times over the weekend: on July 28 at 11:20 a.m. (Stage 5) and 12:40 p.m. (Stage 6), then on July 29 at 11:25 a.m. (Stage 6). If you havent seen TOFU in action, you owe it to yourself to witness their lightning wordplay.
WordFest needs volunteers! If youd like to help out at one of North Americas largest literary festivals, visit www.wordfest.com/volunteer.php or call Imogene at 645-7462.