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Avant Canada - Poets, Prophets, Revolutionaries

Avant Canada

Poets, Prophets, Revolutionaries

Edited by Gregory Betts and Christian Bök
Subjects Literary Criticism, Canadian Literature, Poetry
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Paperback : 9781771123525, 232 pages, December 2018

Table of contents


Gregory Betts and Christian Bök—Time for the Avant-Garde in Canada



Lisa Robertson—The Collective

Liz Howard—Against Assimilation I Rose into Poetry


The Centennial

Kristine Smitka—TheSublation of Obduracy: Nationalism and the Avant-Garde Marketing of BeautifulLosers 

Stephen Cain—“AVision in the UofT Stacks”: bpNichol in the Library


Concrete Poetics

JuliaPolyck-O’Neill—Words With(out) Syntax: Reconsidering Concrete Poetry: AnExhibition in Four Parts

Mike Borkent—Post/AvantComics: bpNichol’s Material Poetics and Comics Art Manifestoes

Eric Schmaltz—FieldGuide to North Concrete: Identification Chart

Kelly Mark—Nationaland Time

Kaie Kellough—Continents


Language Writing

Michael Roberson—Transformationor Resistance: The Kootenay School of Writing in Context

Kit Dobson—APoetics of Neoliberalism

Dorothy TrujilloLusk—Sleek Vinyl Drill

Erín Moure—Pillage12 (“Anaximenes”)

Donato Mancini—IfViolence (Hey You)


Identity Writing

Myra Bloom—MessyConfessions: Sheila Heti’s How Should a Person Be?

Sonnet L’Abbé—CanadianErasures: Sharpening the Gaze at White Backgrounds

LeanneBetasamosake Simpson—caribou ghosts & untold stories

Lee Maracle—BobbiLee, Indian Rebel

Marie AnnharteBaker—cum cum how cum dat cums around even from behind


Copyleft Poetics

Katie L. Price—A? A: The Potential for a Pataphysical Poetics in Dan Farrell’s The InkblotRecord

Darren Wershler—EverydayPractice Before and After Conceptual Writing

Derek Beaulieu—Proseof the TransCanada

Moez Surani—1988

Dani Spinosa—AnxiousInfluence: Reading John Cage Theoretically



André Alexis—OnAmanda PL’s Cancelled Exhibit

A Line Can BeDrawn—An Interview with Jordan Abel


After Matter

Notes andAcknowledgements

List of Figures

Author Bios

Works Cited




Avant Canada presents a rich collection of original essays and creative works on a representative array of avant-garde literary movements in Canada from the past fifty years. From the work of Leonard Cohen and bpNichol to that of Jordan Abel and Liz Howard, Avant Canada features twenty-eight of the best writers and critics in the field.

The book proposes four dominant modes of avant-garde production: “Concrete Poetics,” which accentuates the visual and material aspects of language; “Language Writing,” which challenges the interconnection between words and things; “Identity Writing,” which interrogates the self and its sociopolitical position; and “Copyleft Poetics,” which undermines our habitual assumptions about the ownership of expression. A fifth section commemorates the importance of the Centennial in the 1960s at a time when avant-garde cultures in Canada began to emerge.

Readers of this book will become familiar with some of the most challenging works of literature—and their creators—that this country has ever produced. From Concrete Poetry in the 1960s through to Indigenous Literature in the 2010s, Avant Canada offers the most sweeping study of the literary avant-garde in Canada to date.