bp Nichol: What History Teaches


153 pages
Contains Illustrations, Bibliography, Index
ISBN 0-88922-220-7





Reviewed by Don Precosky

Don Precosky teaches English at the College of New Caledonia and is the
co-editor of Four Realities: Poets of Northern B.C.


This is not just another book about a poet written by another poet, the kind of mutual admiration society writing that has become all too familiar in Canada. It is, rather, an important first book on a significant post-modernist writer and also an educational and painless introduction to the theoretical underpinnings of postmodernism. Scobie’s book consists of five chapters: an introduction and chapters on Nichol’s visual poetry, his sound poetry, his fiction, and The Martyrology, his ongoing long poem. In each chapter Scobie moves from the general to the particular, from the aspects of post-modern theory that apply to the genre he is discussing to the evidence of that theory at work in Nichol’s writing. As I have said, the book is doubly useful: as an introduction to post-modernist critical theory (the notes at the end are a goldmine for anyone who wants to do further reading in this area) and as an introduction to bp Nichol. My only criticism is that I fear Nichol may not always live up to the theory, no matter how hard Scobie tries. This is particularly true in the chapter on Nichol as novelist. The theoretical discussion at the beginning of the chapter is fascinating, but the Nichol fiction that Scobie describes sound terribly tedious.


Scobie, Stephen, “bp Nichol: What History Teaches,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 12, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/37446.