ABC of Reading TRG


137 pages
Contains Photos, Illustrations, Bibliography, Index
ISBN 0-88922-423-4
DDC C811'.5409





Reviewed by Bert Almon

Bert Almon is a professor of English at the University of Alberta. He is
the author of Calling Texas, Earth Prime, and Mind the Gap.


This is a challenging book on the Toronto Research Group, which was
essentially founded as a mouthpiece for the theoretical researches of
two Canadian poets, Steve McCaffery and bp Nichol. Their work drew on
many sources (Jaeger calls it “borderblur” writing), including
Brazilian theories of concrete poetry and the ideas of Gertrude Stein,
as well as what we call “theory” today, the poststructuralist ideas
of Roland Barthes, Jacques Lacan, and Jacques Derrida. Nichol placed his
faith in language, while McCaffery was also interested in a neo-Marxist
engagement with society.

Jaeger provides an introduction and a critique in this work. He uses an
alphabetical list of topics from Alphabets (a preoccupation of
Nichol’s) to Zarathustrian Pataphysics. The reader can go through the
book in the arbitrary order of the alphabet, but cross-references
provided by the frequent use of letters in superscript offer other links
among the sections.

Readers interested in Nichol’s work or in the “language poetry”
movement with which McCaffery is identified will find this book
fascinating; others are likely to find it obscure and pretentious.


Jaeger, Peter., “ABC of Reading TRG,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 16, 2024,