an alphabet book of post avant glosa – Stephen Bett

containers / credit: emcontainers / credit: em

Note: Stephen Bett’s father took him to sit, age 15 and starting out in poetry, at the feet of his father’s friend P.K. Page, the doyenne of Canadian poetry, who later revived the “glosa” in Canada. Bett’s new book, his 25th, in a sense brings it all back home. Broken Glosa takes the “glosa,” a Renaissance Spanish Court form, and breaks it down to its contemporary essentials―fractured forms for fractured times and alternate realities―riffing on postmodernist and post-postmodernist poets in ways that are as surprising and inventive as they are richly textured while remaining fresh and playful.

The poets “glossed” / riffed on to date: Armantrout, Bernstein, Berrigan, Blackburn, Bowering, Cathers, Clark, Coolidge, Creeley, Davey, Dorn, Dworkin, Everson, Friesen, Grenier, Hollo, Jones, Kenyon, Kroetsch, Kyger, Lamantia, Lazer, Loewinsohn, Mac Low, McCaffery, McKinnon, Meltzer, Newlove, nichol, O’Hara, Olson, Oppenheimer. Listen to audio files of these poems on the poet’s website.

Tom Clark: Outlier Onward

Early morning light archery

Moon pictures propped on the dawn gestaltA plum violet flood of lightAs I walked out into it once again

Walking Out ― Tom Clark

Early morning light archery
ultimate soft target Great Naropa Poetry Wars
to Lang Po group-think-thunk thud
w/ allegories pissing up R. Maud (R. Mutt?)
this spaced out raw (worthy) ace shooter

Moon pictures propped on the dawn gestalt
came a long sunny acid salad days eating
pusi(ll)animous spirit in sky church (gulp)
high flying in & out of the garbage pail

A plum violet flood of light
early morning shenani’berrigans peaking
au naturel tripping the broad-beams
can’t believe we’re here again stone sober

As I walked out into it once again
full circle now wow peeking down on us all
primo uno gutsy feisty independista
outlier onward, & still un-co-opted!

Ed Dorn: Slap’o Slap’o, Daddy-o

In soccer / when you do something good
you get a hug and a kiss

In american football / when you do [ditto]
you get a slap on the ass.

The Sociology of Games ― Ed Dorn (with a touching nod to Derrida)

In soccer / when you do something good
something mo’ comes back / in spades (& shades)
sump’ting saves the day, makes hay / on the ol’ post-plantation
Paid yr money now git it on the ride, road-tester

you get a hug and a kiss
you get a Europass zone-out, zonk’o
you win your spurs up the yid army
you get a peck & you’re faced (’n spaced)

In american football / when you do [ditto]
that ten percent amo a’muricano numero uno el afraid’o
factors upwards (pigskin-wise) ditto schmitto LGBT QPR’o*
while beyond the touchline there is nothing, queenie

you get a slap on the ass
that a’muricano macho aggro loverlie’o
homo-eroticismo beats thart thar’s
homophobi’o, beats it big league
up, down, & off, slap’o slap’o, daddy-o

*Queens Park Rangers (not to be confused with Lady Di’s Sloane Rangers

Joel Oppenheimer: A Luggage Tag

in the seat / of a car

like teenagers
. . .

what were wedreaming of

At Fifty―Joel Oppenheimer (with a nod to Miker Mike)

in the seat / of a car
a fave bit of ephemera, this
poem printed on luggage tag
hung out with its spine-meister

like teenagers
from a loop of twine
tied up to ship well into
this far flung future

what were we
at fifty― if Joel were alive he would
love your new book of poems,
just the kind he championed

dreaming of
our kind & kindred champ
well tagged at the Poetry Project
you Take-a-Bow-Airy, maestro

Hank Lazer: Quick Prognostications

flip witness

hip gnosisdiminished homageflesh muse

Days “23”―Hank Lazer (with nods to M. Mann & the gnostics)

flip witness
flick ’da switch & trick
some wisdom sayings
― ok, your first heresy

hip gnosis
so… blinded by the light
cut loose like a deuce
another runner in the night

diminished homage
like tapinosis, anti
bodies negative vibe
in material world

flesh muse
valentines, signor Valentinus
’dat spark in the dark
so… hypo thetical

Jackson Mac Low: Acrostic for an Estranged Daughter

(tailgating a five-liner glosa)

Hegemony daughter of silence

Sentence Clovis remorse jitney RinpocheReader response perspectiveOutrage won polyp wattageNormal cargo weight souped-up runt

from Twenties―Jackson Mac Low (no nodding… or noodling)

Hegemony daughter of silence
Exploding strains roll dice, this action jack impulse
And spontaneous, systematic chance-gene-
Rated sorta proto hashtag Cabaret Voltaire
Too Cagey my nightmare child, no chance here

Sentence Clovis remorse jitney Rinpoche
Icky Sam, fat l’il cloven hoof alt-right sleaze freeze
C U later die neuen Trungpa, say Budder-gater (ho ho)
Krazy wisdom alright, ein five-plug nickel
Drumpf’d off on the bubble, ich bin goodun clerk’d

Reader response perspective
Execrable fluff’n, so who was that lit crit yokel
Adds his schtick Cowpokes & Injuns blop on est. & rad
More class’n romance, if tory’n grits, main-
Stream v. avants weren’t enough already, n’est Paz?

Outrage won polyp wattage
FFS who let the fright rite trash in?
Even odds on Xtian fascist biopsy &
Rise of the Dumpster , sick nodes in network polis
Incidentally pipped à la mort with #BackToPoesy?

Normal cargo weight souped-up runt
(blinded by the light, it’s a Hugo Ball
hat trick unter der Mac da knife
(nada nada Dada Dada
his daughter would not come home

About Stephen Bett

Stephen Bett is a widely and internationally published Canadian poet with 24 Business Relationships in print. His personal papers are archived in the Contemporary Literature Collection at Simon Fraser University. His website is

Business Relationships Book