A review of this collection is difficult, as one feels compelled to address bill bissett’s long and varied career before discussing this eclectic poetic portrait. No simple task. Since the 1960s, bissett has been writing with a voice unique to poetry. With blewointmentpress he was also a major publisher of underground works (including those of Cleveland’s nearly forgotten genius da levy). This same press, though no longer owned by bissett and now known as Nightwood Editions, publishes this tribute. Although he’s also a noted artist who paints the covers of most of his books and whose artwork helps pay the rent (for even a giant like bissett doesn’t make much money with poems), bissett’s poetic output is so vast (thousands of poems in over 50 books) that a 300-word review cannot begin to scratch the surface of his always-intriguing work. Let us just say that he is a rare talent whose impact on Canadian poetics will continue.
radiant danse uv being is a love letter by such luminaries as Margaret Atwood, Leonard Cohen, Steve McCaffrey, Jay MillAr, Stuart Ross and others. This book has much to offer and if you have never read bissett it may prove a useful launching point into his work. If you already enjoy his writing, this book will show you are not alone. (Vincent Ponka)
edited by Jeff Pew and Stephen Roxborough, $23.95, 169 pgs, Nightwood Editions, PO Box 219, Madeira Park, BC, V0N 2HO, nightwoodeditions.com