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The Gross & Fine Geography: New & Selected Poems

Stephen Bett

ISBN: 978-1-910669-25-9

Page Count: 180

Publication Date: Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Cover Artwork: Cover Art: Marion Llewellyn. Title: The Drone, from solo gallery exhibit Snow Asylum, Vancouver, 2011 Size: Dyptych at 24ins by 52ins wide by 2ins deep. Mixed media on birch panel. Contact: duckm@shaw.ca

Click to play audio Stephen Bett reads his poem "Bill Frisell" from Th... play
Click to play audio Stephen Bett reads his poem "Mathias Eick" from Th... play
Click to play audio Stephen Bett reads his poem "Pat Metheny" from The... play

About this Book

Canadian writer Stephen Bett is internationally known as one of the leading poets of his generation. The Gross & Fine Geography: New & Selected Poems draws from thirteen major collections and adds a generous sampling of new work, spanning over four decades. His early work has been critically praised for its sassy, edgy wit as he caustically, often hilariously, satirizes everything from trendy millennialism to soft-core porn to everyday postmodern frivolities, while his more recent work―far more questing, even spiritual, in subject and tone―has been equally acclaimed for honing still further his exquisitely subtle, minimalist language, in books that explore the intensely personal, from desire through to despair and loss, and on to the challenge of personal growth.

Neither mainstream bland nor ‘language-centered’ fashionista, Bett’s fiercely independent voice uniquely carries forward the counter-tradition of the previous generation’s independista poets, like Creeley, Dorn, Hollo, and Clark. But above all, Stephen Bett is one of those truly rare poets who catches at the throat with Zukofsky’s virtually impossible dictum, “Lower limit speech / Upper limit music”―reaching for a language that sings on the page. And for that, his work has been called an incredible accomplishment. 


Author Biography

Stephen Bett is a widely and internationally published Canadian poet. His earlier work is known for its sassy, edgy, hip… caustic wit―indeed, for the askance look of the serious satirist… skewering what he calls the ‘vapid monoculture’ of our times. His more recent books have been called an incredible accomplishment for their authentic minimalist subtlety. Many are tightly sequenced book-length ‘serial’ poems, which allow for a rich echoing of cadence and image, building a wonderfully subtle, nuanced music. Bett follows in the avant tradition of Don Allen’s New American Poets. Hence the mandate for Simon Fraser University’s “Contemporary Literature Collection” to purchase and archive his “personal papers” for scholarly use. He is recently retired after a 31-year teaching career largely at Langara College in Vancouver, and now lives with his wife Katie in Victoria, BC. 



Read a sample from this book

Back Principles (14) : Keats & Rilke coming up again (& damned Spicer, too)

Who sees into me
… has mine heart?


Too easily tossed
(on a heap, on
a mound)


This inning is
future time
(grace time …?)


I would take
a pitcher
of you


Drink it, bat it
out of here
—whatever
it takes


I lose myself
completely, am
struck dumb
in your
buddha
love

Where is my
ground, where
is my Heysus
spinning to
now


This (heady) gain
is nerve loss
(also)


It is mystery
one enters
—terrified
(& possibly
alive …)
Witless &
spooked,
& unafraid
to say so
(god help 
me)


Look in mine 
eyes & give
me your
strength,
I have none
that doesn’t
shake the bases
loose in the
night


Look in mine
eyes, I have
forgotten how
to see



Back Principles (34) : spiritual fatigue

This is surely
spiritual fatigue
(on the loose)
(at loose ends)


Backed into a corner
(loosely speaking)


Back me, back
me not …


My back is knotted


Lies bound in a 
locked drawer


When it creaks open
pray for something
merciful


Pray there is
something
there


You will not
have my back
beyond this 
point


It will be loose
at ease, or it
will be
broken


Back Principles (52) : agoraphobic 

Big spaces are 
made of this


Phoenix to Yuma
—terrifying


The christ to
the buddha …
terrifying too


Hold my back (pls)
the landscape
would break
it in halves


Agoraphobic,
big space


Holding emptiness
in my hands

Copyright © Stephen Bett 2015

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