bpNichol: Love Letter

bpNichols concrete poetry reads "a letter to a loved one" near the top, and "love bp" near the bottom. In the middle there are three diamond shapes made up of typewriter letters, x's and o's.

bpNichol, “Letter to a Loved One,” from Konfessions of an Elizabethan Fan Dancer (detail), 1969. Book, 10 x 7 ¾ inches. Courtesy of the artist estate. Photo: Maria Barrientos.


November 6, 2021–March 13, 2022


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Barrie Phillip Nichol (born 1944, Vancouver–died 1988, Toronto), known to his friends and readers as bpNichol, was a polymathic Canadian poet who worked across disciplines and supported the literary community in Canada working as a publisher of grOnk and Ganglia press and serving on a number of editorial boards and committees. During a career cut short by his untimely death, bpNichol published poetry in the form of collected volumes, chapbooks, broadsheets, mimeographs, serigraphs, CDs and cassette tapes, loose leaves of paper, matchbooks, and other unconventional vehicles for words.

Nichol participated in the global network of concrete and visual poets and contributed to landmark publications such as Anthology of Concrete Poetry (1967) edited by Emmett Williams and Concrete Poetry: A World View (1968) edited by Mary Ellen Solt. Nichol’s remarkable range of output had him exploring sound, performance, nascent computer language, comics, printmaking, and even script-writing for children’s television show. Given this openness, Nichol drew many intellectual and creative companions and long-term collaborators such as poet Steve McCaffery, David Gray Chair of Poetry and Letters and Professor in UB Department of English, and the late visual artist Barbara Caruso.

A prolific writer and artist, Nichol’s innumerable works continue to find an appreciative audience worldwide, including in Buffalo where the University’s renowned Poetry Collection has a large holding of his materials. This exhibition draws from the Poetry Collection and focuses on his exploration of the letters of the English alphabet as lines, infinitely plastic in form and thereby meaning. Presented concurrently with Gregg Bordowitz: Tetragrammaton, another exhibition that examines the letter form, bpNichol: Love Letter explores how fragmenting words as lines and sounds unattached to linguistic signification can reorient our experience of language.

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bpNichol: Love Letter is organized by Liz Park, former Curator of Exhibitions, UB Art Galleries, in partnership with the Poetry Collection of the University Libraries. Support for this exhibition is provided in part by the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts.

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