bissett’s latest book marks some significant boundaries, draws some sharp, clear lines for this veteran of the evolving phonetic alphabet, and of sound, concrete and performance poetry. While the work remains overwhelmingly playful, subtly layered, and full of the astonishment and sheer delight at seeing and hearing things one has never quite thought of the way the poet/performer imagines them before, there is a new edginess to this work that will shake up both old fans and new readers of what can only be called the unique bill bissett experience in language.
These new sharper edges come, quite generously, from the poet’s own re-assesment of where the self ends, and the other begins, and a growing recognition that those boundaries often need to be imposed, and defended, if destructive relationships of co-dependency are to be avoided.
bissett’s usual biting, acute, often deliciously comic interrogation of the socio-political events towering around us like so many boxes we need constantly to think, feel and imagine our way out of, is counterposed in this collection by a recurring dream of a future wherein 20 billion people are locked in a global war on the poisoned surface of the planet while a small minority of peace-loving libertarians have garrisoned themselves into a scanner-protected, completely virtualized underground. While the Bill Gates compound reference of this recurring nightmare is inescapable, the text remains profoundly ambivalent about where one might be better off. There’s just a touch of scariness here in bissett’s latest exuberant rage through the urban wilderness of our time.