I am embarking upon my vacation for the holidays—but before departing, I am going to propose five of the best books of avant-garde poetry published in Canada during this last year. I recommend them all to any interested readership outside my country:
1. Yesno by Dennis Lee
2. The Alphabet Game by bpNichol
3. Thumbscrews by Natalie Zina Walschots
4. Fake Math by Ryan Fitzpatrick
5. Human Resources by Rachel Zolf

by Dennis Lee
House of Anansi
Yesno is the sequel to Un—and like its predecessor, this book continues to speak in the style of Paul Celan about the forthcoming catastrophe of the environment.
The Alphabet Game
by bpNichol
Coach House Books
The Alphabet Game is a compendium of material by bpNichol, the poet who has done more than any other writer to promote the values of linguistic radicalism in Canada.
by Natalie Zina Walschots
Snare Books
Thumbscrews engages with the aesthetics of sadomasochism in order to generate elegant, sensual poetry that writhes inside the shackles of its own linguistic constraint.
Fake Math
by Ryan Fitzpatrick
Snare Books
Fake Math recombines the results from Internet searches in order to generate poetry that provides an incisive, sardonic critique of contemporary, sociological discourse.
Human Resources
by Rachel Zolf
Coach House Books
Human Resources uses machines to generate poetry that, likewise, provides a political critique of quotidian language, now debased by the wasteful excesses of capitalism.

Originally Published: December 20th, 2007

Christian Bök is the author of Crystallography (Coach House Press, 1994), a pataphysical encyclopedia nominated for the Gerald Lampert Memorial Award, and of Eunoia (Coach House Books, 2001), a bestselling work of experimental literature, which has gone on to win the Griffin Prize for Poetic Excellence. Bök has created artificial...

  1. December 20, 2007

    Care to post a poem, or sample lines, from any of those? I'm especially interested in the Lee (I have read some of his work before, I believe) and the Walschots (never heard of her).

  2. December 21, 2007
     Christian Bök

    Hello, Steve:
    I will happily do some longer reviews of these books in the New Year.

  3. December 22, 2007
     Peter Culley

    Where's Donato Mancini? His "Aethel" was clearly the most innovative book published in Canada last year...or does the "avant-garde" (Dennis Lee?) stop at the Rockies?

  4. December 27, 2007

    Looks like more of the same Calgary-Toronto backslapping. When will it end?