“Crossing Lions Gate Bridge” by daveynin is licensed under CC BY 2.0



Sharon Thesen: North Shore Scrawl

My car I drive back & forth
around the town over bridges & here
and there, like everyone else
driving their cars. In the back seat

 I Drive the Car―Sharon Thesen (with numerous nods to Ed Dorn)


My car I drive back & forth

road-testing the language, one hand tied to the wheel [1]

the other transcribes white signal scrawl

Drive, he sd, you’d never sound like a machine [2]


around the town over bridges & here

my town (bubble trouble city) proverbial back of the

hand, every bridge, crossing, laps water, 2nd Narrows

bridge each day / needle / tree sails past the Rez [3]


and there, like everyone else

reading, writing on the road (microbial alert)

strumming the language, stitching the poem

riff / riffing / rift endless yellowed note pads


driving their cars. In the back seat [4]

torn pictures (Tweed Curtains [5])   ― the common duty

of the poet in an era of onslaught upon alertness [6]

scrawl, scrabble the good bacteria of language [7]



Fred Wah: A Floating Space

  nv  s  ble

tr  ck

five   6   seven   nine and ten

      its a trap. [8]

Pictograms from the Interior of B.C.―Fred Wah (with nods to Creeley’s numbers)


  nv  s  ble

naught for the eyes

behind any danse’s russe [9]

a floating space     (no axes


tr  ck

trans-ekphrastic,[10] no dots

to connect, no juiced up

berries in this vine-line


five   6   seven   nine and ten

by the numbers then      One and

one and one   /   Make a picture

two things   /   one and one [11]

rolls back into itself       (… but


      its a trap.

Trompe l’oeil frame(d)   /   two things,

four things   /   one and three [12]

this dream pops too, rubble freed



Phyllis Webb: The Spit

And spit
give me water for spit.
Then give me
a face.

Solitary Confinement [13]―Phyllis Webb


And spit

broken glass

for shards

to speak


give me water for spit.

Gloss this mal du

doute     … never

was spat out


Then give me

ash in time

to witness

its burn


a face.

To spite







[1] Ed Dorn talks about road-testing (& strumming) the language, reading & writing in a scrawled hand while driving, which requires alertness to say the least. See Dorn’s Interviews, Documents for New Poetry 1, Hello La Jolla, Yellow Lola (section 101), & his lecture at the Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics, Talking Poetics from Naropa Institute, Vol. One.

[2] From Creeley’s exemplary “I Know a Man” (see Creeley glosa), & from Fawcett’s essay on Thesen―see footnote to Michael Rothenberg glosa..

[3] Burrard Band, Chief Dan, then Leonard, George―good neighbours.

[4] See Oppenheimer glosa: “what were we dreaming of”?

[5] Oak Bay (suburb of Victoria), home to Brit ex-pats living in an Edwardian “Old Country” that never quite was.

[6] Dorn’s Yellow Lola (p. 63): “The common duty of the poet / in this era of massive dysfunction / & generalized onslaught upon alertness / is to maintain the plant…”

[7] Thesen, in The Capilano Review (3.5, The Sharon Thesen Issue), frontispiece: “…poetry being the good bacteria of language…”

[8] “Its” [sic]

[9] Once again in these glosas, WCW’s renowned & wonderful poem, as a self-portrait; look at all the i’s

[10] Bowering notes Wah’s response to these pre-historic cave drawings is “transcreative”―neither translations nor descriptions.” (Intro to Wah’s Selected, p. 15)

[11] “One and one… a picture” (from Creeley’s “Enough”); “two things one and one” (from Creeley’s “Song (What do you want, love”)

[12] “two and two…one and three” (from Creeley’s “Numbers”); & more loveliness still: “let / me sing, one to / one to one, and let / me follow” (from Creeley’s “One thing done”)

[13] This section of Webb’s poem starts, “Let my tongue hang out / to remember the thirst for life. / Let my togue hang out / to deliver itself / of the bitter curd. / And spit / …”




The poems published here come from Bett’s book in progress, BROKEN GLOSA: an alphabet book of post avant glosa:

Stephen Bett’s father took him to sit, age 15 and starting out in poetry, at the feet of his father’s friend P.K. Page, the doyenne of Canadian poetry, who later revived the “glosa” in Canada. Bett’s new book, his 25th, in a sense brings it all back home. Broken Glosa takes the “glosa,” a Renaissance Spanish Court form, and breaks it down to its contemporary essentials―fractured forms for fractured times and alternate realities―riffing on postmodernist and post-postmodernist poets in ways that are as surprising and inventive as they are richly textured while remaining fresh and playful.

The poets “glossed” / riffed on to date: Armantrout, Bernstein, Berrigan, Blackburn, Bowering, Cathers, Clark, Coolidge, Creeley, Davey, Dorn, Dworkin, Everson, Friesen, Grenier, Hollo, Jones, Kenyon, Kroetsch, Kyger, Lamantia, Lazer, Loewinsohn, Mac Low, McCaffery, McKinnon, Meltzer, Newlove, nichol, O’Hara, Olson, Oppenheimer, Padgett, Pickard, Prynne, Queneau, Raworth, DC Reid, M Reid, Rothenberg, Saroyan, Schjeldahl, Snyder, Spicer, Stevenson, Thesen, Veitch, Violi, Wah, Warsh, Webb, Welch, Whalen, Wieners, Wilkinson, J Williams, J Wright, Zwicky.

Listen to audio files of these poems on Bett’s site: http://www.stephenbett.com/books/broken-glosa.shtml