Finding Nothing: The VanGardes, 1959−1975

By Gregory Betts

© 2021

Experimental literature accelerated dramatically in Vancouver in the 1960s as the influence of New American poetics merged with the ideas of Marshall McLuhan. Vancouver poets and artists began thinking about their creative works with new clarity and set about testing and redefining the boundaries of literature. As new gardes in Vancouver explored the limits of text and language, some writers began incorporating collage and concrete poetics into their work while others delved deeper into unsettling, revolutionary, and Surrealistic imagery. There was a presumption across the avant-garde communities that radical openness could provoke widespread socio-political change. In other words, the intermedia experimentation and the related destruction of the line between art and society pushed art to the frontlines of a broad socio-political battle of the collective imagination of Vancouver.

Finding Nothing traces the rise of the radical avant-garde in Vancouver, from the initial salvos of the Tish group, through Blewointment’s spatial experiments, to radical Surrealisms and new feminisms. Incorporating images, original texts, and interviews, Gregory Betts shows how the VanGardes signaled a remarkable consciousness of the globalized forces at play in the city, impacting communities, orientations, races, and nations.

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Product Details

  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 312 pages
  • Illustrations: 100
  • Dimensions: 7.0in x 0.0in x 10.0in
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SKU# SP005510

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    Regular Price: $85.00

    ISBN 9781487505318
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Quick Overview

Finding Nothing explores the eruption of avant-garde writing in Vancouver that re-invented the culture of the city in the second half of the twentieth century.

Finding Nothing: The VanGardes, 1959−1975

By Gregory Betts

© 2021

Experimental literature accelerated dramatically in Vancouver in the 1960s as the influence of New American poetics merged with the ideas of Marshall McLuhan. Vancouver poets and artists began thinking about their creative works with new clarity and set about testing and redefining the boundaries of literature. As new gardes in Vancouver explored the limits of text and language, some writers began incorporating collage and concrete poetics into their work while others delved deeper into unsettling, revolutionary, and Surrealistic imagery. There was a presumption across the avant-garde communities that radical openness could provoke widespread socio-political change. In other words, the intermedia experimentation and the related destruction of the line between art and society pushed art to the frontlines of a broad socio-political battle of the collective imagination of Vancouver.

Finding Nothing traces the rise of the radical avant-garde in Vancouver, from the initial salvos of the Tish group, through Blewointment’s spatial experiments, to radical Surrealisms and new feminisms. Incorporating images, original texts, and interviews, Gregory Betts shows how the VanGardes signaled a remarkable consciousness of the globalized forces at play in the city, impacting communities, orientations, races, and nations.

Continue Reading Read Less

Product Details

  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 312 pages
  • Illustrations: 100
  • Dimensions: 7.0in x 0.0in x 10.0in
  • Author Information

    Gregory Betts is a professor in the Faculty of Humanities at Brock University.
  • Table of contents

    Acknowledgments 

    Introduction: Finding Nothing
    When American Literature Moved to Vancouver
    Finding Nothing (or, the Avant-Garde Flowering that Was the 1960s)
    The Problem of Nothing: A Short Interlude on the Theory of the Avant-Garde 
    The VanGardes 

    1. 1–19 Thoughts on TISH, 1961–1969 (A Document of Response) 

    2. The Birth of Blew
    Harmony: Aristotle, Olson, and Vancouver, 1959–1963 
    Disharmony: Bissett, Collage, and another Vancouver, 1959–1983 
    The End of Categories: The Vancouver Litter-rary Collage 

    3. Blew Collage
    At the Margins of the Garde
    Blewointment
    Collage into Canada
    Literature into Collage (in Vancouver)

    4. A Line, A New Line, All One: Variant Narratives of Concrete Canada
    The Concrete Liturgy 
    Canadian Concrete 
    Other Narratives of Concrete Poetry 
    Judith Copithorne on Vancouver Concrete 
    Coda: The Visual Roots of the Alphabet

    5. The Triumph of Surrealism: Magick Art in Vancouver
    Vancouver Deformance 
    The Surreal West Coast 
    Precursors and Early Forays: Surrealism in Vancouver 
    Canadian Literary Surrealism 
    Super-natural British Columbia: From Lawren Harris to David W. Harris 
    Post-revolutionary Surrealism 
    The Colour of My Dreams 

    6. Performing Proprioception: The Birthing Story as Public Discourse 

    7. Avant Now and Then: Locating the Post-Avant
    Hegemony and the Single Riot 
    Haling Taxi! 
    Locating the Post-Avant 
    Neruda, Chile, and Further Disenchantments 

    Conclusion: “we stopped at nothing”
    Finding Nothing in the Avant-Garde Archive 

    List of Figures

    Appendix A: Warren Tallman Elegy 
    Apendix B: Concrete Poetry 
    Appendix C: Glossary of Intermedia and Transdisciplinary Groups 
    Appendix D: Letter to the Editor of the Georgia Straight 

    Works Cited

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