Sound & Syntax International Festival of Sound Poetry (1978)
Sound & Syntax International Festival of Sound Poetry (1978), CCA Glasgow - bill bissett
From Syntax International Festival of Sound Poetry (1978)

Documentation of Bill Bissett performing his sound poetry. Same setting as Tape 118. After some small fragments of film, the performance starts with Bissett on stage, chanting and shaking two maracas, wearing a cowboy-esque shirt. It is an energetic, shamanic performance somewhere between song and poetry, with the words often difficult to make out. After about 5 minutes he switches to more conventional poetry, with environmental and spiritual themes, somewhat indebted to American Beat poetry, with lines such as ‘the cosmic eye startles your rubbery gaze.’ Hereafter he alternates between this and the chanting, animalistic style, sometimes with one or both maracas. One poem is concerned with a comedic fictionalised relationship between Canada and the British Royal Family’s sewage disposal. The camera stays mainly focused on Bissett with occasional shots of the audience and pans/zooms. The performance ends with Bissett jumping around the stage, after which the tape cuts briefly to a recording of the Marx Brothers (presumably from television) then cuts out.

A Canadian, Bissett is well known as a concrete and sound poet. His chants and barefoot dancing during performance as well as his range of reference from the absurd to the transcendent have helped others link him to the shamanistic tradition. He was also an avid publisher founding Blew Ointment magazine in 1963 and later Blew Ointment press.

bill bissett in UbuWeb Sound