bpNichol: We are words and our meanings change




bpNichol's work stands at a profound moment in the history of modern culture and Canadian literature. As scholar Stephen Scobie notes, "To say that "we are words" links us with a deeply humanistic identification between ourselves and the language which is our medium; however, to say that "our meanings change" also throws into doubt any certainty we may have about words and by extension ourselves." [1] In this way, bpNichol's concrete poetry playfully deconstructs words, letters, sounds, forms, histories, ideas, and ideologies. He was one of the first concrete poets in Canada; with a career spanning from the early 1960s to his untimely death in 1988. bpNichol was a leading figure in postmodern poetry and he helped shape an important part of Canadian literary history.

This online exhibition, bpNichol: We Are Words And Our Meanings Change, seeks to illustrate some of the poetic effects of renowned Canadian concrete poet bpNichol and to highlight selected examples of his visual and sound poetry housed in the Special Collection of Modern Poetry of Archives & Special Collections, Carleton University Library.

[1] Stephen Scobie, bpNichol: What History Teaches (Vancouver: 1984), 9.