Let’s take one example from The Captain Poetry Poems. On page sixteen we have three A’s, two upper case and one lower, overlapping in a trippy Escher-like pattern. Embedded inside—as if readers were stealing a rare look into the soul of the letter itself—is a rolling landscape with a cloud-filled sky and, peeking out of the corner, Morph the Milt. The message is obvious: each letter is a rabbit hole into its own world. Still, Nichol has simply produced the stylized idea of a rabbit hole. How can you possibly respond? True, it has a quirky vigour that tells us an actual hand drew it. But it’s a typographical bagatelle planted foursquare on a page.
Those who flip through The Captain Poetry Poems and wonder what it all means will never know. You had to be there. Indeed, The Captain Poetry Poems only underscores that the long aftermath of Nichol’s death has become a love affair with holy relics. The work may wear badly, but the legend is imperishable. Yet The Captain Poetry Poems also demonstrates everything worthwhile about Nichol: his free-agent sensibility, his bemused distance from the mainstream-verse universe and its “umpteenth poem on me and mom,” his belief that joy could infiltrate poetic conventions and eat away at their genetic structure.
Poetry. Art. Originally published in 1970 as a mimeo production by bill bissett's seminal blewointment press (the same year that Michael Ondaatje issued his documentary on Nichol titled The Sons of Captain Poetry), smatterings of THE CAPTAIN POETRY POEMS COMPLETE have appeared over the years but never in their entirety. Now, in "official book form" for the first time, along with corrections to the texts and the material that wasn't included in the original edition, and "some words on all these words" by Nichol himself THE CAPTAIN POETRY POEMS COMPLETE is available at last to scholars, poets, and other human beings alike. With an afterword by bill bissett.