The quest in this latest fusion of song, sound, performance and visual poetry from bill bissett is for a human condition outside the perpetual terror of the twenty-first century—a terror based in an irrational fear that the loss of our ideologies, our homemade gods and bombs will leave us impoverished and vulnerable to the ambitions of others. “I call you again over a vast linguistic valley,” offers the poet. “The brain is a soft flower, tremulous in its aspecting, and wanting to trust, we lose what we seek and find what finds us. This is earth. These are people.”
This tireless quest to find the delight of discovery, wonder and truth in what at first sight seems foreign, mysterious and apparently “incorrect,” defines both bissett’s latest book and his singular poetic genius. The joy of discovery and recognition in our encounter with the poet’s unpunctuated, uncapitalized phonetic spelling and visual presentation offers us a reward in direct proportion to our willingness to engage the work by abandoning all of the baggage of the learned expectations we bring to the act of reading—allowing the words and their new echoes to cross the “vast linguistic valley” that is redolent with the imaginative possibility of entrances to others as they actually appear, and not as we expect them to be.
As always, bissett pushes his linguistic palette here into realms that ideographically lend access to his intellectual discoveries. His introduction of an occasionally determined capital A in the middle of a word or phrase, representing “a tent on a mountain,” echoes the profound spirituality of this book, and its suggestion that “The mind is a kaleidoscope—discouragement—satisfaction—and finding the way again. There are no happy endings. Happy moments, yes. The drama and all the poetic approaches continue to be.”