“Over the past three and a half decades Billy Little has been an important unit in the west coast writing scene. Poet, collector, critic and bookseller, he’s the ballpoint that stirs the coffee. He’s also my personal model in matters sartorial.”
Alias, disguise and comic misdirection have always been the tools of the guerrilla poet, Billy Little. In his public persona of Zonko, he was known as the most frequent reader at the Vancouver anti-war rallies of the 1970s. He claims to be the illegitimate son of poets Paul Blackburn and Diane Wakoski, but he has also claimed to be a Buddhist lesbian. He was born in any case in New York City in 1943, an early blooming baby boomer, and received his early education there. He read his first poem at a family gathering at the age of 11, and says he has been hooked by the attention he received ever since.
He was in the U.S. military from 1960 to 1963 and is an ardent anti-militarist today. He was a board member of the St. Mark’s Poetry Project in its very early days. He went from college in New York City to the State University at Buffalo, where he joined forces with the New American Poets of the first and second generation in a poetry project which is still on-going. He claims as friends, mentors, and sometime collaborators the North American poetry luminaries Joel Oppenheimer, Anne Waldman, Ted Berrigan, Robert Creeley, Robert Duncan, Robin Blaser, John Barth, Jack Clarke, Robert Hogg, Michael Davidson, Bob Hass, Eddie Kissam, Fred Wah, George Butterick, and John Wieners. In other words, he’s really been around in the world of North American poetry.
Since his arrival in Vancouver in 1973, he has lived a life of constant and productive service to the Vancouver communities of poets. Octopus Books was legendary in the 1970s as a poetry venue in the city. Although he has never been a fame-seeker, his influence as a bookseller, poetry savant, publisher, organizer, poet and performer is pervasive on the west coast. For the last several years, Billy has been living on Hornby Island, an idyllic island off the coast of mainland British Columbia, home to many artists and writers.
The poets who have written in the tributes section of this volume are only a few of Billy’s wide friendship and acquaintance among Canadian poets. This volume was organized by some of these friends in tribute to his indefatigable activity on behalf of poetry and poets here.
Billy Little | ISBN: 978-0-9810122-1-6 | 7 x 9, 100pp | $16