Criticism & Features

NBCC Reads

What Are You Recommending, Troy Jollimore?


NBCC members and finalists and winners of our book award were eligible to vote in the winter edition of the NBCC’s Good Reads. One of the member voters was critic and winner of our poetry prize, Troy Jollimore—here’s what he had to say about his vote for “The Alphabet Game: A bpNichol Reader, by bpNichol.” (Coach House Press,

What I love about bpNichol is his playfulness, his humor, the sheer joy he took in sentences, in words, even in individual letters. Language was never abstract for Nichol, but a vivid, physical presence; the very shape of a letter could inspire him, as could the sound of spoken language, and even the grunts and noises we resort to when language fails us. As a result he did a lot of work in the areas of concrete poetry (as well as a great many cartoons) and sound poetry (he was a member of the amazing sound poetry performance group, The Four Horsemen). But the more traditional poems he wrote for the page are also wonderful. The Alphabet Game is a hugely enjoyable gathering of his work, and I hope that it will bring him new readers, particularly in the U.S. where, sadly, he remains little-known.

TROY JOLLIMORE is Associate Professor of Philosophy at California State University, Chico, and author of the poetry collection, Tom Thomson in Purgatory, winner of the 2006 National Book Critics Circle Award for poetry.