Not sure if this is as a poem about poetry, a poem about poets, or a poem about love (and various approximations thereof). Maybe it's all the above. Or none. Whatever. I like it anyway, so here goes...
(Poem #189) dear Captain Poetry
dear Captain Poetry, your poetry is trite. you cannot write a sonnet tho you've tried to every night since i've known you. we're thru!! Madame X dear Madame X Look how the sun leaps now upon our faces Stomps & boots our eyes into our skulls Drives all thot to weird & foreign places Till the world reels & the kicked mind dulls, Drags our hands up across our eyes Sends all white hurling into black Makes the inner cranium our skies And turns all looks sent forward burning back. And you, my lady, who should be gentler, kind, Have yet the fiery aspect of the sun Sending words to burn into my mind Destroying all my feelings one by one; You who should have tiptoed thru my halls Have slammed my doors & smashed me into walls. love Cap Poetry
from 'The Captain Poetry Poems', 1971. Note that the occasional misspellings are intentional. Before embarking on a dissection of this poem, you might want to read this brief [Biographical Note] bpNichol [real name: Barrie Phillip Nichol - t.] was one of Canada's most challenging and innovative poets. His writing spans a remarkable range -- from concise allegories on a single letter, on through to sound poetry, fiction, theoretical investigations and culminating in his nine-volume poem The Martyrology. Nichol's curiosity and his care of language provoke his readers to embark on their own explorations into the language frontier. Nichol died in 1988. [Deep Analysis Begins Here] Before anything else, I have to say that I just love the concept of Captain Poetry - defender of the weak, protector of the poor, and guardian of our poetic frontiers - the world needs more superheroes like him. This is actually a rather mild poem for Nichol - not as outre as some of his work, nor as overtly experimental. Perhaps that's the reason why it's also one of his more popular ones - innovators constantly have to tread the thin line between accessibility (and public acclaim; after all, even poets have to eat) and originality. But I digress. Back to the poem, folks, back to the poem. The surface of today's poem is obvious enough; what's interesting (and what I like about it, and about Nichol's poems in general ) is the host of self- and meta-referential questions it raises about the Nature Of Poetry. I'm not going to go into detail about every little hint or teaser he's thrown in, but do note in passing the echoes of Shakespeare, Dylan Thomas and Thom Gunn. Understated, but nice. thomas.  though again, how can you _not_ like a poet who populates his world with characters named St. Orm and St. Ranglehold ? Or who titles a book 'Not what the Siren sang, but what the Frag ment'?  both from 'The Martyrology', Nichol's greatest work. [Links] Check out some examples of Nichol's visual poetry at [broken link] http://www.thing.net/~grist/l&d/bpnichol [Trivia] In the late 1960s, Nichol was part of a performance poetry group called the Four Horsemen. A documentary about this group, titled 'The Sons of Captain Poetry', was made in 1971 by no less a personage than Michael Ondaatje. So now you know.