Lift Off


a journey of future tense

Canadian poet Stephen Bett has been called a legend internationally. His 24th book, Lift Off; a journey of future tense, like his recent ones, is a serial poem - minimalist in its poetics, and subtle enough to sustain repeated readings. The book concerns painful, but edgy, movement out of chaos and disrepair and into a new beginning, into a 'lifting off'.

Advance Critical Comments for Lift Off

"Reading through these poems I felt transported."

-Sebastian Frye

"Very taken with Lift Off, finding it emotionally resonant and surprising."

~ Sarah Ang

"Very excited about Lift Off; the serial poem is a tough thing to pull off and [Stephen Bett's] done a marvelous job. Lift Off is a smart book, with some lovely moments in it."

~ Jeramy Dodds

"I do like the minimalist style of Lift Off, and there are ironies and wonderful plays on language here that make the work sing in a fascinating way. [The] perspective is different, and unique."

~ Marty Gervais

"Lift Off: a journey of future tense is at once both edgy and subtle in its form. The themes covered in Lift Off are inspirational and captivating.... A successful and talented poet."

~ Barry Dempster

"Impressive. A voice that rings in volumes and makes a clear cut in the so-called 'nylon curtain' dividing [Canada] from [the U.S.].... pretty amazing no matter which way you look at it."

Kevin Killian,
author of the biography on Jack Spicer

Reviews of Lift Off

Lift Off is a book-length serial poem consisting of 45 numbered Lift Offs, each with an additional subtitle. The sequence concerns the break-up of a marriage in the wake of the complete mental breakdown of one of the spouses, Bett's wife. As such, it is rooted in a kind of grieving and regret, but, as the title implies, there is an underlying sense of hope, of the potential for a future beyond both break-up and breakdown. Both threads come together in the recuring image of a bird, battered but stubbornly taking flight: (Read More)

~ Billy Mills
From Elliptical Moments, April 25, 2023