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Life and career
Judith Copithorne grew up in Vancouver, British Columbia, in an artistic family. Her childhood was filled with the artistic milieu of her parents and the books left by an artist uncle who died young, all of which gave her wide-ranging ideas about the possibilities of art and literature. Judith Copithorne started writing and drawing at an early age and, by the time she attended the University of British Columbia, had formed her own ideas about the arts. At UBC, she studied under such prominent figures as Warren Tallman and George Woodcock.
In the early 1960s she became acquainted with an informal group of "Downtown Poets," including writers such as Gladys (Maria) Hindmarch, John Newlove, bill bissett, Gerry Gilbert, Maxine Gadd and Roy Kiyooka, centered around the Vancouver venues of Sound Gallery, Motion Studio and Intermedia Press. The Downtown Poets were involved in more radical experimentation than the established TISH group of the University of British Columbia, represented by poets such as George Bowering, Fred Wah, Frank Davey and Daphne Marlatt. The appellation “Downtown poets” was invented by UBC professor Warren Tallman to distinguish the San Francisco Renaissance-influenced UBC writers from the homegrown Canadian poets.
Judith Copithorne has made many contributions to concrete poetry and other types of experimental writing in prose, poetry and visual poetry, with works centering on domestic space and community. Her primary work involves the intersection of text and visual forms, with early work combining text with abstract line drawings, called Poem-drawings. Copithorne continued to explore various media and by 2015 was working almost entirely with computer generated compositions. In the Introduction to the anthology Four Parts Sand, she describes her work as,
Poem-drawings are an attempt to fuse visual and verbal perceptions. The eye sees, the ear hears, movement is felt kinaesthetically throughout the body and all these sensations are perceived in heart, belly and brain. The aims are the same as in other forms of literature and art: concentration and communication, delight, immersion in the present moment.
Published in the first issues of blewointment and Ganglia, Copithorne went on to publish over 40 books, chapbooks and ephemeral items (a bibliography of her work was published by jwcurry in the March, 2009 issue #400 of 1 cent).
- Returning (Returning Press, 1965)
- Release: Poem-Drawings (Bau-Xi Gallery, 1969)
- Rain (Ganglia Press, 1969)
- Runes (Coach House Books/Intermedia, 1971)
- Miss Tree's Pillow Book (Intermedia/Returning Press, 1971)
- Until Now (Heshe&ItWorks, 1971)
- Heart's Tide (Vancouver Community Press Writing Series #8, 1972)
- Arrangements (Intermedia Press, 1973)
- A Light Character (Coach House Books, 1985)
- Third Day of Fast (Silver Birch Press, 1987)
- Horizon (Pangan Subway Ritual, 1992)
- Tern: (Returning Press, 2000)
- Brackets & Boundaries (Returning Press, 2012)
- see lex ions (Xerolage 62; Xexoxial Editions, 2015)
- west coast seen, Jim Brown, ed. (Talonbooks, 1969),
- New Directions in Canadian Poetry, John Robert Colombo, ed. (Holt, Rinehart and Winston of Canada, 1971)
- Four Parts Sand, Earle Binney, ed. (Oberon Press, 1972)
- THE LAST BLEWOINTMENT ANTHOLOGY VOLUME 1, bill bissett, ed. (Nightwood Editions, 1985)
- Beaulieu, Derek (December 12, 2012). "abstract-concrete-1". Lemonhound. Retrieved October 28, 2018.
Her exemplary work from the 1960s and 1970s integrates a daily diaristic practice (especially in Arrangements) that documents a domestic space centered on meditation and community. 1969’s Release consists of a series of wisp-like ethereal hand-drawn texts that move through gestural fragments and slights of handwriting accumulated into florid yogic texts that move between mandala and map. The suggestion that her pieces are drawn and not written and are hyphenated poem-drawings speaks to a textual hybridity which places looking on the same plane as reading. With Arrangements, Runes and Release Copithorne creates a visual poetry of looking and reading the domestic and the community.
- Binney, Earle (1972). Four Parts Sand. Ottawa: Oberon Press. p. Introduction. ISBN 978-0887500541.
- Whistle, Ian (April 2017). "On Judith Copithorne". many gendered mothers. Retrieved October 28, 2018.
- "Abstract / Concrete #1: Judith Copithorne (By derek beaulieu)"
- "Ian Whistle on Judith Copithorne"
- "Squaring the vowels - On the visual poetry of Judith Copithorne" - Interview by Gary Barwin, October 23, 2013
- "UbuWeb Visual Poetry: Judith Copithorne"
- Ruins in Process, "Vancouver Art in the Sixties"
- Ruins in Process, "Judith Copithorne's Sketchbook"
- ditch, poetry magazine, "Judith Copithorne"
- "Giantesses: Gadd, Copithorne, Rodin & Robertson" & "Concrete Vancouver"
- "And blood poured down"
- "Copithorne, Judith" Explorations in Media Ecology, Volume 18, Number 3, 1 September 2019, pp. 307-316(10)