Everybody’s Martyrology provides commentary and analysis for almost every page of bpNichol’s meandering nine-volume lifelong poem, The Martyrology — a poetic pondering of the inevitable extinction of the human species. Taken together, it became one of the five longest canonical poems in English. Like Caroll Terrell’s A Companion to The Cantos of Ezra Pound or George Butterick’s A Guide to The Maximus Poems of Charles Olson, Everybody’s Martyrology will attract students seeking information about particular passages, scholars interested in coherent readings of the overall work, and poetry readers fascinated by the idiosyncrasies of individual volumes.
Davey brings to the book not only his own experience as a much-published poet and expert in Canadian avant-garde writers of the 1960–2000 period, but also his close friendship and collaborations with Nichol. Davey was often the first to hear a new passage of The Martyrology when Nichol dropped by his house to read and discuss it. He remembers.