Animal Uproar


128 pages
Contains Illustrations
ISBN 0-88922-247-9
DDC C811'






Reviewed by Brian Burch

Brian Burch is a teacher, writer and poet and author of Still Under the


Animal Uproar is not a book for lazy readers or those just wanting to relax with a collection of poetry. The difficulty comes not from content, but from Bill Bissett’s ongoing sense of play with spelling and form.

Animal Uproar, like most of Bissett’s work, is written in response to the greater world around him. Bissett does not devote a great deal of time to introspection but jumps into the issues of the day or deals with personal matters, like his poetry being liked by Kerouac, as if relating in the first person events in the life of someone else. His content is familiar; it is his style that makes demands on the reader.

I was especially attracted to nukler addicksyun and partikuls uv faith. “nukler addicksyun” is a very good indictment of the overwhelming dependency that portions of our society have on nuclear power and nuclear weapons, a dependency that can not be overcome short of going cold-turkey. “partikuls uv faith” seems to be both a spiritual response to a river and a reminder of the call of the road.

I found it surprising not to find Bissett’s work challenging the borders of the main-stream poetry world. His experimentation has become one of many influences on younger writers. He seems to be approaching the page in much the same ee cummings, and it is hard to realize that his tendency to spell words the way they sound and to toy with visual usages of typeface and characters were once radical. In the 1980s Bissett himself is a main-stream writer, one whose works have become acceptable to a wider range of readers than the avant-garde of poetry.

Animal Uproar reflects the apocalyptic world we live in. Bissett shows us a detachment from our own lives, a detachment that has allowed humanity to poison the earth, threaten all life with nuclear destruction, and keep an emotional distance from even those we are most intimate with. His words have a powerful impact because we are forced to translate them from letters on the page into words in our own mind. Bissett’s form is one we must appropriate to accept and comprehend.



Bissett, Bill, “Animal Uproar,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 24, 2024,