Our Own Stunned Heads


As with all his recent books, Stephen Bett’s Our Own Stunned Heads is a serial poem, very much minimalist in its poetics, and therefore subtle enough to sustain repeated readings. The book concerns painful, yet still cutting, edgy movement out of chaos and disrepair and into new beginnings.

Stephen Bett is a widely and internationally published Canadian poet with many books in print. His work has been called an incredible accomplishment for its authentic minimalist subtlety, tightly sequenced book-length serial poems, which allow for a rich echoing of cadence and image, building a wonderfully subtle, nuanced music.

Bett follows in the avant tradition of Don Allen’s New American Poets. Hence the mandate for Simon Fraser University’s Contemporary Literature Collection to purchase and archive his personal papers for scholarly use.


“Reading the eighteen poems that comprise Stephen Bett’s Our Own Stunned Heads induces a sensation that is not unlike careening down one of those corkscrew water slides. You find yourself gathering speed, somehow negotiating the well-banked corners, gasping at velocity attained on the straight stretches, and always, always fending off a deep-seated fear that this might be the time something goes wrong, this might be the time you don’t make it before you arrive, triumphantly, at the end. What a ride!”

—Linda Crosfield