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.