Broken Glosa


About Broken 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―riffing on postmodernist and post-avant poets in ways that are as surprising and inventive as they are richly textured. This book plays out Stephen Bett's lifetime in North American and British avant-garde poetry, taking the measure of 70 postmodernist poets.



This is a really fascinating book―from tricky, resistant, clever to wise, giving, gratifying, and always sonically interesting and funny, funny! These are strange, intricate little machines; I've never seen anything quite like them. And that's what I look for and appreciate most in art, something full of integrity and surprise. Bravo!

-- Michael Kenyon

What strikes me most fundamentally is that I get more flashes of caught-in-the-interstices language-testing from any single one of Stephen Bett's glosa poems than from the entire collected works of other writers celebrated today. So this is a book of poems to be outright championed.

-- Ken Cathers

Broken Glosa is a lament, exultation, beat improvisation, pop incantation, mantric visitation, and resounding of the bardic emanation. It is a prayer, and all that seems in ruins in the world is reborn in celebration here, in the continuous song of the cosmic and eternal muse, reborn in Broken Glosa.

-- Michael Rothenberg

Stephen Bett's new book, Broken Glosa, crosses generations and poetic movements in the 20th Century and beyond, while stretching back to 15th century Spain. It breaks the changes down to their infinitesimal bits as well as macro-giant linguistic movements. It has much to teach North American and British poets about how you cover an oeuvre, ingest its primary edible, nourishing, tangible insights in one book of nova-glosas. A good-looking temptress may be best translated as Low-Leigh-Tuh, and giving evidentiary pressure on the last syllable so the viewer is brought to mesmerification. Now, read the rest of the book. There's more.

-- DC Reid

Broken Glosa puts a wicked spell on us. Wildly inventive, linguistically tumultuous, and energetically playful, these aren't just poems but dialogues, chants, and jokes with the poets on whom they riff. Each line bears the delight of a syncopated jazz beat: "dear harmon: that full round tone / & // sound bites /... can break / the heart // in / every / single / groove (doo bop bop." These poems are full of off-beat bite.

-- Orchid Tierney

A Who's Who of Cool--Stephen Bett has resurrected an old form as a way of cleverly cataloging the major practitioners of avant poetry in the past half century. He riffs on masters from an insider's perspective, from Beats to New York School to the Zen Cowboys. Style and substance pair up perfectly in these supremely crafted, personal tributes that are themselves canon-worthy.

-- Jeffrey Cyphers Wright