George Bowering


The second reading in our third series, I don't feel very happy tonight that the crowd is nice and big, and also that because I don't quite know what's going to happen, although I've heard rumours. We have Lionel Kearns and BP Nichol, as you know, and they have elected instead of doing a reading by each poet, with an intermission in the middle or anything like that, a manner of joint reading. And I think, in a sense, that makes a lot of sense, because Lionel Kearns is by one of his professions, a linguist, and also one of his main, one of his main themes is the social care of human beings. BP Nichol is a radical therapist, and is known especially for his border-blur poems, and it makes a lot of sense, I think, for that reason that they do read together. They read together last night at Carlton, apparently worked out very well. Lionel is as you probably know is one of the centers of the so-called Vancouver Renaissance that took over Canadian poetry in the 1960's, threatened to do that too. [laughter.] BP was one of those blessed children from the east, although he had lived in Vancouver before, who kept his ears open. Well, he says he was born there. BP managed to grace the city of Vancouver for a few years and I guess that's where he got the ears open in the first place, but since that time he's been opening all our ears. So seeing as how this reading threatens to last four hours, according to rumours, I think I'll stop now and give the floor to either, and, or BP Nichol and Lionel Kearns.




Note: recording drops in volume, and a second strand of talking can be heard over the recording-- perhaps from another part in the reading.


Lionel Kearns


Well, I'll begin by reading a poem called "Telephone". It's what I call a media parable, I have a whole set of poems that are media parables and things, which are coming out in a collection very soon. This one is called "Telephone".


Annotation- Lionel Kearns


Reads "Telephone". [audience laughter.]


BP Nichol


What you're going to get out of me this evening is a strange pastiche, since I managed to do that clever thing of loosing everything I wrote over the last year. So this is, selected weirdness.


Annotation- BP Nichol


Reads first line "Out of the dark wood workings of the mind's memories, we are alone..."


Annotation- BP Nichol


Reads "Uneven Song". *Note recording is looping over itself, so both BP and Lionel can be heard reading other poems in the background.


Annotation- BP Nichol


Reads "Out of the middle the ends are taken...".


Annotation- Lionel Kearns


Reads "Word".


BP Nichol


I'll read a series of quiet poems. Because we've got some really loud ones to read too. "Poem found among the ruins".


Annotation- BP Nichol


Reads "Poem found among the ruins".


BP Nichol


This one's called "The Business"


Annotation- BP Nichol


Reads "The Business".


BP Nichol


This one is called "Geners" [sp?]


Annotation- BP Nichol


Reads "Each human body a temple of the holy ghost..."


Annotation- BP Nichol


Reads "The Answer".


Annotation- BP Nichol


And this one, derives from my seeing a piece of sculpture, an exhibition of Haida art I think, or some West Coast Indian art. A little figure of a woman carved, a carved figure of a woman, but she is in a very strange position, she's doing a kind of funny thing. It seemed worth writing a poem about. It's called "Labia Digital". [Laughter.]


Annotation- BP Nichol


Reads "Labia Digital" [?.]


Annotation- BP Nichol


Reads "The True Eventual Story of Billy the Kid".


Lionel Kearns


This one is called -- I'll try reading with both the mic and without the mic and if you can't hear me, then shout and tell me that you can't hear me. I'll try this one without the mic. It's called "Gestured" [?.] My titles are always very abstract. That's not very abstract. Most of my titles are very abstract. This is written for a friend, I had to [inaudible] with a sketch.


Annotation- Lionel Kearns


Reads "Expression". [applause begins, but is cut from recording.]


Lionel Kearns


Actually, actually, I don't think it's a good idea to clap in between the poems, because BP and I have got so many good poems that you're going to wear your hands out. [Laughter.] This one is called "Transport", it's also a media parable.


Annotation- Lionel Kearns


Reads "Transport".


BP Nichol


[cut.] There's things that I try to be absolutely very, very personal [inaudibe] thing I ever wrote. I wrote it at Port Dover, in, on Lake Eerie. It's one of those days when I was flaked out on the beach, covered up because I get vicious sunburns and just peel the whole summer, and in the background was playing [inaudible] "Over the white cliffs of Dover" and [inaudible] Pussycats juxtaposed, there was sprawled over the beach was this weird phrase "Podunk" and these two cats were playing football overtop of my head. So anyways I felt very sort of, weird, and wrote the following poem.


Annotation- BP Nichol


Reads sound poem "umpa-pa beach park..."


BP Nichol


Hugo Ball was kind of the daddy of us all, and he was kind of a very fine dadaist who lived in Switzerland during the first World War and sort of did the first sound poems. It was very strange, if you read Hugo Ball's diaries, it's rather fascinating because it was more or less, when he gave these sort of his final public reading he got really carried away in the midst of a sound poem an kind of got thrown back into sort of a-- how to put this-- an earlier space in his mind, anyways he went back and started remembering all sorts of things right back through his life doing this sound poem. As you read the diaries, there's a real feeling he became totally terrified of what was happening to him. Because at that point he then just split and left the whole thing behind. So this is kind of for Hugo Ball. It's called "Dadalama". This poem's gone through so many changes I can't even keep track of it anymore.


Annotation- BP Nichol


Reads "Dadalama".




[cut, blip in tape]




Recording starts again.


Lionel Kearns


I'm going to read some poems now from my collection, Pointing, which I see is for sale out on the other room. These poems are, for the most part, quiet poems, poems of my own measured voice. They're poems that originated a few years ago and they came out of the general West Coast poetry scene that was going on very intensely-- hello?--[audience member says that it's hard to hear]-- is it hard to hear back there with this? [audience members talk, someone fixes mic.] I'll try--If I talk louder into the mic can you hear that? Keep letting me know, if you can't hear, shout. I'd like to read this one into the mic because they aren't poems that can be shouted. This one is called "Situation" and it derives from an experience I had in Mexico many years ago.


Annotation- Lionel Kearns


Reads poem "Situation”.


Lionel Kearns


How's that for sound, can you hear that? "Insights"


Annotation- Lionel Kearns


Reads "Insights".


Lionel Kearns


I'm very sentimental [laughter.] This is an early poem I wrote, it's called "Homage to Machado" it's really a translation of a poem by Antonio Machado, the Spanish poet. I've not only translated it, I've switched the central image, but used his statement. His image was that of a boat going across a lake and he looked out and saw the ripple of the water behind it and  then commented on that. But I changed the metaphor.


Annotation- Lionel Kearns


Reads "Hommage to Machado".


Annotation- Lionel Kearns


Reads "Remains".


Annotation- Lionel Kearns


Reads "Total Presence".


Lionel Kearns


A very small poem called "Witness".


Annotation- Lionel Kearns


Reads "Witness".


Lionel Kearns


And this one, called "Profile". I'll read it without the mic.


Annotation- Lionel Kearns


Reads "Profile".




Unknown audience member says "Have you ever thought of pausing it and--" and is CUT by the tape.


Lionel Kearns


We thought of reading all of our quiet poems at the beginning, and then getting louder and louder and louder, but we thought this would get you too excited and you'd go out onto the street [laughter.] So we decided to mix them all up and you'll get everything quiet and loud and funny and very serious and that's part of it- you know- getting them all at once all in juxtaposed relationships.


BP Nichol


This way you can sort of do what you want with which ones you wanna do. It's very hard to listen to a poetry reading all the way through. I can never hack poetry readings myself. What Lionel and I are trying to do is maybe do you a favour so you can listen for a longer time maybe. [laughter]


Lionel Kearns


Who locked the door [laughter.]


BP Nichol


Among my poems from the last year which I lost, was a very long thing called the "Martyrology" which included all these things about a whole series of saints I'd evolved. Which had included St. Reet and St. Ranglehold and St. And and it's kind of too complicated to go into what they all sort of were doing, but St. Ranglehold came from the word 'stranglehold' and the rest you can kind of figure out maybe.


Annotation- BP Nichol


Reads part of "Martyrology", line "Days numbered as the years are even, time cannot withstand such order. St. Reet...."


Lionel Kearns


Was that loud enough by the way?


BP Nichol


Could you hear that? It's hard to tell from behind here. This is a poem called "Ruth" and it was for a good friend of mine, David W. Harris, who now calls himself David W. And it begins with a quote from Ruth.


Annotation- BP Nichol


Reads "Ruth".


Annotation- BP Nichol


Reads first line "Measure the clock, talk back time...".


BP Nichol


And this uh, this is a poem that begins with a line from a poem by bill bissett. Actually...[CUT in tape.]


Annotation- BP Nichol


Reads first line "Living now in terrible times, the TV talks from the next room...".


Lionel Kearns


We'll try it up there. It's called "Color Problem".


Annotation- Lionel Kearns


Reads "Color Problem".


Lionel Kearns


This, I'm going to read a concrete poem now. BP inspires me so much with his concrete poetry that I have begun to write concrete poetry too. Some concrete poetry is purely visual and you can't read it, it's to go on walls and things like that. Other concrete poetry is so sonic that it's nothing really to look at, but occasionally you can get the two combined so that you have something on the page which also is something else when read, but the two correspond. This one that I've got is to some extent like that, on the page it's called "Studies in Interior Decoration Border Design" because of the way it looks on the page, which of course being an audience at a poetry reading, you aren't concerned with. But I'll read it  and it does work, I think,  sonically too. It's called "The Woman Who Reminded Him of the Woman Who".


Annotation- Lionel Kearns


Reads "The Woman Who Reminded Him of the Woman Who".




CUT IN TAPE. Silence... reading is much quieter. Note: this part of the recording is actually from later on in the reading, and was somehow recorded here. For the full version, please see I086-11-026.2 at time 38:10.41.


Lionel Kearns


This one is called "It"


Annotation- Lionel Kearns


Reads "It".


Lionel Kearns


A lot of the poems in this book--


Annotation- Lionel Kearns


CUT in tape- the original reading continues.


Lionel Kearns


This is called the "Kinetic Poem", my poem is called the "Kinetic Poem".


BP Nichol AND Lionel Kearns


Reads "Kinetic Poem" with BP Nichol.




CUT, distortion of recording.


BP Nichol


'Karnijikawa' is the name of a Japanese film maker that made a film about the Olympics. Okay? How should we start this out-- 'all together now?' [laughter.]


Lionel Kearns


Think- think, pretend you're at the Olympics. [Laughter]


BP Nichol AND Lionel Kearns


Karnijakawa- Karnijakawa, follow me [here, audience members chant "Karnijakawa" with BP and Lionel Kearns.]


BP Nichol AND Lionel Kearns


Thank you. [applause.]




Karnij- jakawa [Audience member screams it out.]


Lionel Kearns


Karne means meat in Spanish. I was at Louis Dudek's, at one of courses today and we were talking and the students were talking and so on and I was reading a few poems, and they said, "Why are you so pessimistic about things?" and I'm not so pessimistic, and I'll read a poem now that's got an up-beat ending.




What led them to deduce your pessimism?


Lionel Kearns


I read a poem without an upbeat ending [laughter.] This is another media parable. And it's called "The Parable of the Seventh Seal" and naturally, it derives from a movie. Um, the movie called "The Seven Samurai". [laughter] Or you've probably seen that, there's a Hollywood derived a few movies from that, one of them called "The Magnificent Seven" or something like that. The original one was a Western made in Japan, and Hollywood stole the idea and made a Western in the West. Now I've taken the same situation, the same story and given it a Northern locale. And that's why it's called "The Seventh Seal" [laughter.] It was published in this New Romans thing, and that makes it an anti-American poem, but it really, when I wrote it, I didn't have this book in mind. But they paid me $30 so I put it in here.


Annotation- Lionel Kearns


Reads "The Parable of the Seventh Seal".


Annotation- Lionel Kearns


END OF RECORDING (story is cut short)


bpNichol and Lionel Kearns at SGWU, 1968, Part 1

Catalog numberI086-11-026.1
Notes"Second reading in the third series"
Sound qualityUnfortunately the recording sounds like it has been recorded over. At many points, it is as if the recording has looped and is being re-played in the background. This most likely occurred sometime after the original recording and digitization. It is audible, however, with a patient ear.
SpeakersbpNichol, Lionel Kearns, introduced by George Bowering

00:00- George Bowering introduces BP Nichol and Lionel Kearns.

02:25- Annotation: Recording drops in volume, “looped” recording begins where another part of the reading can be heard in the background of the recording.

02:26- Lionel Kearns introduces “Telephone”.

02:49- Lionel Kearns reads “Telephone”.

07:04- BP Nichol introduces unknown poem, first line “Out of the dark wood workings of the mind’s memories, we are alone...”.

07:23- BP Nichol reads unknown poem, first line “Out of the dark wood workings of the mind’s memories, we are alone...”.

08:45- BP Nichol reads “Uneven Song”. *Note recording is looping over itself, so both BP and Lionel can be heard reading other poems in the background.

09:28- BP Nichol reads unknown poem, first line “Out of the middle the ends are taken...”.

10:26- Lionel Kearns reads “Word”.

11:27- BP Nichol introduces “Poem found among the ruins”.

11:43- BP Nichol reads “Poem found among the ruins”.

12:19- BP Nichol reads “The Business”.

12:43- BP Nichol reads “Geners” first line “Each human body a temple of the holy ghost..."

13:51- BP Nichol reads “Computer Riddle Poem”.

15:05- BP Nichol introduces “Labia Digital”

15:55- BP Nichol reads “Labia Digital”

16:41- BP Nichol reads “The True Eventual Story of Billy the Kid”.

20:46- Lionel Kearns introduces “Expression”.

21:32- Lionel Kearns reads “Expression”

22:39- Lionel Kearns introduces “Transport”.

22:56- Lionel Kearns reads “Transport”.

26:33- BP Nichol introduces chant poem “umpa-pa beach park...”.

27:25- BP Nichol sings sound poem “umpa-pa beach park...”.

29:06- BP Nichol introduces “Dadalama”.

30:28- BP Nichol reads “Dadalama”.

30:52- CUT in tape, silence.

30:53- Recording starts again, silence.

33:38- Lionel Kearns introduces “Situation”.

35:06- Lionel Kearns reads “Situation”.

36:36- Lionel Kearns reads “Insights”.

36:55- Lionel Kearns introduces “Homage to Machado”

37:45- Lionel Kearns reads “Homage to Machado”.

38:17- Lionel Kearns reads “Remains”.

39:08- Lionel Kearns reads “Total Presence”.

40:05- Lionel Kearns reads “Witness”.

40:38- Lionel Kearns reads “Profile”.

41:32- Unknown audience member asks question, but is CUT by the recording.

41:37- Lionel Kearns answers question

42:12- BP Nichol answers question

42:32- Lionel Kearns makes a joke

42:37- BP Nichol introduces “Martyrology”.

43:05- BP Nichol reads part of “Martyrology”, line “Days numbered as the years are even, time cannot withstand such order. St. Reat...”.

43:58- BP Nichol introduces “Ruth”.

44:20- BP Nichol reads “Ruth”.

46:20- BP Nichol reads first line “Measure the clock, talk back time...”

46:57- BP Nichol introduces first line “Living now in terrible times, the TV talks from the next room...”

47:18- BP Nichol reads poem with first line “Living now in terrible times, the TV talks from the next room...”

49:43- Lionel Kearns introduces “Color Problem”.

40:49- Lionel Kearns reads “Color Problem”.

50:06- Lionel Kearns introduces “The Woman Who”

51:20- Lionel Kearns reads “The Woman Who”.

53:14- CUT in tape, silence, from this point to 54:05.82 is actually from a part in the second half of the recording from 38:10.41 onwards.

53:25- Lionel Kearns reads “It”.

54:02- Lionel Kearns begins to explain next poem, but there is a cut in the tape and the original recording continues.

54:15- Lionel Kearns introduces “Kinetic Poem”.

54:26- Lionel Kearns and BP Nichol read “Kinetic Poem”.

55:57- Distortion in recording.

56:00- BP Nichol introduces unknown poem “Karnijikawa”

56:23- BP Nichol, Lionel Kearns and audience chant “Karnijikawa”.

57:22- Lionel Kearns introduces “The Parable of the Seventh Seal”.

57:59- Unknown audience member asks question.

58:00- Lionel Kearns answers question, continues to introduce “The Parable of the Seventh Seal”.

59:38- Lionel Kearns reads “The Parable of the Seventh Seal”.

01:01:57- END OF RECORDING (story is cut short, continues in second part of reading).