I think it’s fair to say that 2020 was a shite year for
most things but a great year for visual poetry. Here are a few folks that stood
out in the pandemic year and made my world a better, more joyful, imaginative
and thoughtful place.
Joakim Norling: Timglaset
Editions (Sweden) is dedicated to the publication of visual poetry. Joakim
treats the work of the visual poets with great care and thought. Three works
that I return to again and again for their strength, imagination, and
Lines and Poetry by Dona Mayora
Milk by Sacha Archer
Walks: 50 templates for pataphysical inspection, now in its 2nd
printing by Hartmut Abendschein
Hedenrud, on ameocha
Clara Daneri & Anthony Etherin: Penteract Press (UK)
In 2020 the press has published a number of great titles,
including Gary Barwin’s colorful and playful Ampers&thropocene,
Words: A Meandering Material Dialogue by Rachel Smith and Myth &
Metamorphosis, which includes Clara’s intricately made Llud and Llefelys,
Sacha Archer’s Narcissus and Even the Best Laid Plans, Wunjo & Haglaz by SJ
Fowler, Gary Barwin’s Two Water Sigils, for Rita Wong, Dani Spinosa’s Megara
and Eurydice, Maria Celin Val’s Athena (Wisdom), the Labyrinths of Rachel Smith
and Luke Bradford and James Knight and his Minotaur pieces, not to mention more
books that I wish I’d had the money to purchase. A shout out to Anthony for his
astounding palindromes which I guess can’t be considered visual poetry…or can
They also have a great podcast with
favourite and informative episodes such as the Visual Poetry panel episode with
Laura Kerr, Derek Beaulieu and Rachel Smith, and the episodes with Gary Barwin,
Kate Siklosi and Dani Spinosa. They’ve had 18 episodes so far and I intend to
listen to earlier ones that I have missed too.
Dani Spinosa (Canada) for her engaging book OO:
Typewriter Poems published by Invisible Books, and To Whom
Shall I Sing published by Noir: Z.
Kate Siklosi (Canada) for her beautiful collection , 6
feuilles, published by Noir:Z and the work elsewhere, which is activist and
environmental as well as being beautiful and well-made. Kate and Dani are the
proprietresses of Gap Riot Press,
which has started to publish some memorable and beautiful visual poetry
including PSW’s ON
LINEatureS and sophie anne edwards river
(Canada), for Mother’s Milk, obviously, but also for all the creative and
fascinating work he does, from video to the paper pushing pieces scanned and
posted on Instagram and FB. He’s also the publisher of Simulacrum Press, a press which has
published numerous great works of visual poetry and other stuff too.
Petra Schulze-Wollgast (Germany) for her own work but
also for ToCall, a
Mimeograph magazine with contributors from all over the world.
Asemic Writers and Visual Poets Global (WAAVe) the powerhouse group on FB
helmed by the delightful Kristine Snodgrass. I love being part of this group.
(Finland) who gifted me several gorgeous minimal chapbooks this year and whose
work is stunning and beautiful as always.
Renee Gladman (USA) for One
Long Black Sentence (Image Text Ithaca Press) with Anindex by Fred Moten, a
creative, playful and beautiful book of asemic drawings, grids, lines and
architecture that I received as a gift from a dear friend and that spark my imagination
every time I open the book.
Ava Hofmann, (USA) visual poet and editor of Sporazine, a journal of experimental
literature written by trans people. I love Ava’s work, which I see mostly
through Twitter, but this year her poem [A WOMAN WANDERED
INTO A THICKET] published by Puritan Magazine blew everyone away.
Sporazine’s 1st issue was an eye-opener for me, including some
writers and visual poets I had heard of before, such as Zefyr Lisowski through
Ghost City Press, and some who were new to me, such as essa may ranapiri.
Gregory Betts (Canada) for Sweet Forme from
Apothecary Archives is a delight of whimsy and wonder and colour. Is it vispo?
Why yes, yes it is.
Papachristodoulou (UK) for her own work and for her Poet Atlas exhibits, which are
fascinating and push the boundaries of visual poetry.
Silje Ree (Norway/UK)
for her work and also for her multilingual exhibits of visual poetry through Mellom Press established this year.
Sarah J Sloat for Hotel
Almighty (Sarabande Books) a delightful erasure book of Stephen King’s
Gary Barwin, (Canada)
who is always pushing the boundaries of visual poetry and everything else with
all of his work, his videos and books and responses to others’ work.
Beaulieu (Canada) for his work and for his continued promotion and attempts
at raising awareness about the world of concrete/visual poetry, both its history
and contemporary work. On the Penteract Press podcast visual poetry panel episode
I mentioned earlier, Derek said something that I found inspiring and motivating:
he talked about the need for writers and artists to constantly push and challenge
themselves. This is something that I think is essential for my own practice.
Kyle Flemmer, the
Blasted Tree (Canada) for all the work he does with the press and this year
for Concrete and
Crystal by sophie anne edwards (gifted to me by a dear friend), his own
publication of a clematis leaf in homage to Kate Siklosi (Purple rain: 100 Petals for
Kate Siklosi), and Ben Robinson’s Without Form, which translates
the numbers of the Bible into visual poetry. I am so delighted to see more visual
poetry with the Bible.
All of the women in Women
in Concrete Poetry: 1959-1979 published by Primary Information. a long overdue
book and acknowledgement of great work by these women and more who were paving
the way (groan!) for future women visual poets, including me! The effects of
erasure of women in visual poetry, literature, art, film etc…are long lasting,
depressing and inhibiting.
Katy Telling for her wonderful interviews with visual
poets and others, including Sascha
Aktar whose visual poetry collection Not
Been Seen As Such published by IceFloe Press earlier this year looks
Richard Capener, The Babel Tower Notice Board
(UK) for including and promoting and introducing me to some great visual poetry
such as Labyrinth:
In Search of the Answer I and II by Rachel Smith, Madelaine
Shirley and Cat
Chong, not to mention the playful and experimental work of the entire first
year of TBTNB.
No doubt there are numerous vizpo dahlings I haven’t had a chance to learn about yet. I
could easily mention all of the visual poets in the latest issue of Experiment-O for example. To those of you I
haven’t mentioned, give me a shout and links to your great work and others so
that we can all learn more together. I look forward to more vizpo dahlilngs in 2021.
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