Bullock, Michael (Hale)

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BULLOCK, Michael (Hale)

Nationality: British. Born: London, 19 April 1918. Education: Stowe School, Buckinghamshire; Hornsey College of Art, London. Family: Married Charlotte Schneller in 1941 (died); one daughter and one son. Career: Chairman, Translators Association, London, 1964–67; Commonwealth fellow, 1968, professor of creative writing, 1969–83, and since 1983 professor emeritus, University of British Columbia, Vancouver. McGuffey Visiting Professor of English, Ohio University, Athens, 1968; New Asia Ming Yu visiting scholar, Chinese University of Hong Kong, 1989. Founding editor, Expression magazine, London; member of the editorial board, Canadian Fiction Magazine, Toronto. Adviser to the New Poetry Society of China, 1994. Awards: Schlegel-Tieck translation prize, 1966; Canada Council fellowship, 1968, and translation award, 1979; Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council fellowship, 1981; Okanagan Short Fiction award, 1986. Address: 103–3626 West 28th Avenue, Vancouver, British Columbia V6S 1S4, Canada.



Transmutations (as Michael Hale). London, Favil Press, 1938.

Sunday Is a Day of Incest. London and New York, Abelard Schuman, 1961.

World Without Beginning, Amen! London, Favil Press, 1963.

Zwei Stimmen in Meinem Mund (bilingual edition, translated by Hedwig Rohde). Andernach, Germany, Atelier, 1967.

A Savage Darkness. Vancouver, Sono Nis Press, 1969.

Black Wings, White Dead. Fredericton, New Brunswick, Fiddlehead, 1978.

Lines in the Dark Wood. London, Ontario, Third Eye, 1981.

Quadriga for Judy. London, Ontario, Third Eye, 1982.

Prisoner of the Rain: Poems in Prose. London, Ontario, Third Eye, 1983.

Brambled Heart. London, Ontario, Third Eye, 1985.

Dark Water. London, Ontario, Third Eye, 1987.

Poems on Green Paper. London, Ontario, Third Eye, 1988.

Vancouver Moods. London, Ontario, Third Eye, 1989.

The Secret Garden. Victoria, British Columbia, Ekstasis, 1990.

Avatars of the Moon. Victoria, British Columbia, Ekstasis, 1990.

Labyrinths. London, Ontario, Third Eye, 1991.

The Sorcerer with Deadly Nightshade Eyes. Vancouver, Rainbird Press, 1993.

Dark Roses. London, Ontario, Third Eye, 1994.

The Inflowing River. Vancouver, Rainbird Press, 1994.

Moons and Mirrors. Vancouver, Rainbird Press, 1994.

Stone and Shadows. Vancouver, The Poem Factory, 1996.

Erupting in Flowers. Vancouver, Rainbird Press, 1999.

Nocturnes: Poems of Night. Vancouver, Rainbird Press, 2000.


The Raspberry Picker, adaptation of a play by Fritz Hochwalder (produced London, 1967).

Not to Hong Kong (produced London, 1972). Published in Dialogue and Dialectic, Guelph, Ontario, Alive Press, 1973.

The Island Abode of Bliss (produced Vancouver, 1972).

The Coats (produced London, 1975).

Biography: A Game, adaptation of a play by Max Frisch (produced New York, 1979).

Andorra, adaptation of the play by Max Frisch (produced London, 1989).

Sokotra: A Play. Vancouver, Rainbird Press, 1997.


Randolph Cranstone and the Glass Thimble. London, Boyars, 1977.

Randolph Cranstone and the Veil of Maya. London, Ontario, Third Eye, 1986.

The Story of Noire. London, Ontario, Third Eye, 1987.

Randolph Cranstone Takes the Inward Path. London, Ontario, Third Eye, 1988.

The Walled Garden. Victoria, British Columbia, Ekstasis, 1990.

Voices of the River. Vancouver, Rainbird Press, 1994.

Short Stories

Sixteen Stories as They Happened. Vancouver, Sono Nis Press, 1969.

Green Beginning Black Ending. Vancouver, Sono Nis Press, 1971.

Randolph Cranstone and the Pursuing River. Vancouver, Rainbird Press, 1975.

The Man with Flowers Through His Hands. London, Ontario, Third Eye, 1985.

The Burning Chapel. Victoria, British Columbia, Ekstasis, 1991.

The Invulnerable Ovoid Aura and Other Stories. London, Ontario, Third Eye, 1994.


The Double Ego; Followed by, From Dusk till Dawn. London, Ontario, Melmoth, 1985.

Lifelines. Victoria, British Columbia, Ekstasis, 1990.

Selected Works 1936–1996, edited by Peter Loeffler and Jack Stewart. London, Ontario, Third Eye, 1998.

Translator, with Jerome Ch'ên, Poems of Solitude. London and New York, Abelard Schuman, 1961.

Translator, The Tales of Hoffmann. London, New English Library, 1962; New York, Ungar, 1963.

Translator, The Stage and Creative Arts. Greenwich, Connecticut, New York Graphic Society, 1969.

Translator, Foreign Bodies, by Karl Krolow. Athens, Ohio University Press, 1969.

Translator, Invisible Hands, by Karl Krolow. London, Cape Goliard Press, and New York, Grossman, 1969.

Translator, with Jagna Boraks, Astrologer in the Underground, by Andrzej Busza. Athens, Ohio University Press, 1971.

Translator, Stories for Late Night Drinkers, by Michel Tremblay. Vancouver, Intermedia, 1977.

Translator, The Persian Mirror, by Thomas Pavel. London, Ontario, Third Eye, 1988.

Translator, Compulsion, by Claudette Charbonneau-Tissot. London, Ontario, Third Eye, 1989.

Translator, Erik Satie Seen Through His Letters, by Ornella Volta. London, Boyars, 1989.

Translator, The City in the Egg, by Michel Tremblay. London, Ontario, Third Eye, 1999.

Other translations include novels and plays by Max Frisch and more than 130 other French and German books.


Manuscript Collection: University of British Columbia, Vancouver.

Critical Studies: By John Ditsky, in Canadian Forum (Toronto), February 1971; Richard Hopkins, in British Columbia Library Quarterly (Victoria), January 1972; "Light on a Dark Wood" by John Reid, in Canadian Literature (Vancouver), Autumn 1972; interview with Richard Hopkins, in British Columbia Library Quarterly (Victoria), June 1973; The Incandescent Word: The Poetic Vision of Michael Bullock by Jack Stewart, London, Ontario, Third Eye, 1990.

Michael Bullock comments:

I consider myself a surrealist, or at least a neosurrealist, in that I base my work upon the free play of the imagination without, however, sacrificing clarity of expression. I seek to use vivid and striking imagery to convey states of mind and emotion and to create an autonomous world freed from the restrictions and limitations of everyday existence. This world and the means I use to give it form remain the same whether I am writing verse, prose, or drama. I believe that my writing in all three genres can with almost equal right be described as poetry. All of it is a vehement rejection of realism. I like to hope that there is some truth in the comment of a reviewer who wrote that my fables "bear witness to one of the most wildly imaginative minds ever to reach the printed page" and in Anaïs Nin's description of my work as "a liberating expansion of what is reality." The two remarks together sum up what I am trying to do.

*  *  *

In the poem "Escape" (A Savage Darkness), which might easily stand as his personal manifesto, Michael Bullock explains,

   The real surrounds me
   with its barbed wire entanglements
   Leaping upwards I clutch at a cloud
   and stuff it into my head
   In a blue haze
   figures emerge
   and drift
   in an endless floating dance
   Women with streaming hair
   fall downwards
   holding burning flowers
   Flocks of eyes fly around gazing
   and flapping their lids
   Stretched out
   on the cloud in my mind
   I wait for the approach
   of the ultimate dream …

The poem continues, but the most important catchphrase is "the ultimate dream." For Bullock is a surrealist, almost an orthodox one in fact, and his poetry and his prose insist entirely on the freedom, the total possibility, that is the dream, both as a source and as mode. Bullock's poems are associative, fantastical, alogical; like a free-form dance, they leap and swirl to the arabesques of the imagination. Through his writings Bullock reenacts creation according to his own laws, according to a triumphantly lyrical, nonlineal progression both in time and space:

   Out of the air I draw the memory of a bird.
   Out of the earth I draw the memory of a tree.
   From the memory of the bird
   and the memory of the tree
   I make the memory of a poem
   that weighs lighter than air
   and floats away without wind …

The result is that Bullock's poetry almost always departs from unexpected places and arrives at unfamiliar destinations. And the means by which it gets there is, needless to say, no less unpredictable.

—Andreas Schroeder