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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Works shared : the social forms of Vancouver poetry of the 1960s and 1970s Hunter, Donald M.


My dissertation examines how strategies of collaboration and collectivity are at work in the poetry of several poets who resided in Vancouver in the 1960s and 1970s: bill bissett, George Bowering, Martina Clinton, Frank Davey, and Maxine Gadd. It investigates works published in Tish and blewointment within a spirit of group work and sociability. I examine this “poetics of sociability” (Daniel Kane’s term), while acknowledging the fluidity of the term “collaboration,” which will give way to more contextual terms such as “collective” and “communal.” However, while these aspects of collectivity challenge the myth of the solitary author, and are in line with the communal ethos of the period, my study also investigates how these writers resisted or adapted these group models and asserted their own individual authorship. This dissertation is intended to serve as a broad survey of the early works of bissett, Bowering, Davey, but also as a recovery and inaugural scholarly engagement with the works of Clinton and Gadd. I employ the methodology of close reading texts by all these authors, expand upon it by interpreting documentaries of the period, and examine an audio recording of a poetry reading. The introduction surveys the theorization of collaboration in post-1945 North American poetry. My second chapter then introduces Tish and analyzes the responsive, collective nature of the work published in that magazine, with particular attention to a new collaborative form invented by Bowering and Davey, the “twin poem.” The raw materials of the poetry of these Tish poets is seen to emerge from a context of group work, or as Robert Duncan terms it, “works shared.” The third chapter introduces the journal blewointment, and looks closely at how its editors, bissett and Clinton, shared their domestic space and represented it in their works. The fourth chapter examines how George Bowering exploits the form of the anthology and risks the “anti-social” in his book Curious. And the fifth chapter looks at, and listens to, how Maxine Gadd uses the platform of the public poetry reading to circulate her unpublished work, and to express doubts about sociability and collectivity.

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