Saturday, March 21, 2009

Visual poetry... once again!

"The future," wrote Mallarmé," is never more than the bursting forth of what ought to have occured earlier, or near the origin."

What we now call visual poetry first came to the attention of many in the US thanks to a special issue of Chicago Review devoted to it in 1967, edited by Emmett Williams and reprinted by the legendary Something Else Press; also in work by the late Mary Ellen Solt. Back then it was called "concrete poetry." The good old days!

To my amazement, the kindred 1968 book that created even more widespread interest in contemporary visual poetry is still in print, thanks to New Directions: Once Again, by Jean-Francois Bory. Bory was extremely interesting, as you can see from this fascinating essay on him by Richard Kostelanetz. Anyone else out there have or remember this book, which opens with the quote above? Among the American poets and artists represented in it are Jonathan Williams, Mary Ellen Solt, Aram Aroyan, Ad Reinhardt, D.A. Levy, Kostelantez, Ronald Johnson, and Jeff Berner. Great stuff! Whatever happened to Bory - anyone know?

Anyway, the argyle graph you see here can be found in the Danish journal Spring: Tidsskrift for moderne dansk litteratur, number 18, 2002. The whole issue is devoted to the late Inger Christensen; the article from which the image is taken is by Rikke Toft Nørgård: "Mirakler for realister: En analyse af 'Brev i april.'" The graph (labelled Fig. 1) is on p.146. You can access that issue online by clicking here.

In May, Poetry magazine will feature a special section of previously untranslated work by Christensen, introduced by Suri Hustvedt.

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