Thursday, December 31, 2020

Vizpo Dahlings of 2020

 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 memorability:

 Language, Lines and Poetry by Dona Mayora

Mothers’ Milk by Sacha Archer

Asemic Walks: 50 templates for pataphysical inspection, now in its 2nd printing by Hartmut Abendschein

Anna 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, Read(writ)ing 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? 😊

 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 writes.

 Sacha Archer (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.

 Women 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.

 Satu Kaikkonen (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.

 Astra 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 Misery.

 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.

 Derek 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 exquisite.

 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 Culver, Katy Telling, T.W. Selvey, Maggs Vibo, Max 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.

Saturday, December 19, 2020

The Vispo Bible: Acts from the New Testament Now Completed

Acts 27

I began Acts in February and completed it today, December 19, 2020. That makes a total of 319 pages since beginning in June, 2015. For Acts, I began to use Adobe Illustrator, moving from Photoshop and that slowed me down a bit. I had to learn new software and also figure out how to glitch it for the types of transformations I do to text for the Vispo Bible. While there are repetitive processes involved in using software to create visual poetry, I find that at least for this work, I still need to bring a sense of exploration, whimsy and imagination to the work. 

I feel that the pandemic made it difficult to focus. I also began a new part of the Vispo Bible, not based on including every verse and chapter from every book, but rather taking individual passages and using them as the source text for So Many Silenced, So Many Unnamed, which is a project to turn misogynistic text in the Bible into affirmations of women's strength and resilience via shapes which resembles women's bodies, many wearing dresses, corsets and other garments associated with women as a type of reclamation. We will see what 2021 brings. 

 

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Working with Adobe Illustrator; Progress on the Vispo Bible

 

Acts 11 from the New Testament



Photoshop has become a pain in the ass, constantly upgrading and making it difficult to work with. Since Adobe is forcing me to relearn everything anyway, I've been learning how to make visual poems in Illustrator, which I have been told by fellow visual poets is a good tool for such. Since the summer I have been making little visual poems, of one letter or one word, going back almost to my early days of working with MS Paint in 2005 or so, when i focused on an individual letter or word. But I've finally gotten to the point where I can work with whole blocks of text again, so I made the next visual poem in the Vispo Bible: Acts 11 from the New Testament. I began Acts in February of this year, just before the pandemic. Many other things distracted me, but mostly it was the annoyance of Photoshop's constant upgrades that slowed my progress. I feel now that I can resume work on Acts and hope to have it completed by the end of this year, all being well.

For those interested, or perhaps keeping track, I've said that the Vispo Bible is a life's work. I began it in 2015. Here's the progress so far:


This year I have also taken a side trip, going through the Bible for passages about women, both named and unnamed, and started a new section of the Vispo Bible called So Many Silenced, So Many Unnamed. You can see examples here on the Pi Review whose editor kindly published the visual poems, along with poems on the women of the Bible. 

I have plans to look thematically at various subjects in the Bible and recently made this piece entitled Leviathan, but made in Photoshop in the summer:


Job 41: 31 He maketh the deep to boil like a pot: he maketh the sea like a pot of ointment.


I haven't been submitting new chapbook manuscripts for the Vispo Bible. I want So Many Silenced, So Many Unnamed to be a trade book in full colour. I don't expect it to be ready for some time, but if you have any ideas on who might publish it, I'd love to hear them.



Saturday, October 03, 2020

The Vispo Bible: Revelation published by Timglaset Editions is now available as a free pdf

 Timglaset Editions has kindly made free pdfs of sold out books, including Revelation, from the Vispo Bible. take a look here. there's a vast catalogue of joyous work. Revelation was published in November, 2018. almost two years ago. so happy that Joakim Norling accepted my query. it was the start of a great friendship and mutual appreciation of visual poetry.

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

League of Canadian Poets features Exodus 13 from the Vispo Bible in Poetry Pause

 thanks to the League of Canadian Poets for their support of the Vispo Bible. 

Check out Exodus 13 here.

Wednesday, September 09, 2020

vispo haiku

 here are 3 vispo haiku. i have been learning how to use Adobe Illustrator of late. normally i work with Photoshop, but thought i'd give Illustrator a go. two women inspired my attempts at making visual poetry haiku: Dona Mayoora who has been making asemic haiku, and Catherine Vidler who has been making and sharing hers on Instagram. as always, i appreciate the inspiration. of course, these are inspired most of all by 2020 and end tymes.

1. state of the country ; 2. growing anxiety; 3. end of the empire.



Friday, August 21, 2020

So Many Silenced, So Many Unnamed - a new section within the Vispo Bible - recently published on the Pi Review

 thanks to John Whittaker of the new online magazine for asking me to submit work to help debut the site. i'm happy to follow friend and visual poet, derek beaulieu and look forward to seeing what comes  next.

you can see excerpts, which include both visual poems and poem-poems (not sure what else to call non visual poems) here.

So Many Silenced, So Many Unnamed is a new section i'm working on for the Vispo Bible that uses passages from the Bible and addresses misogyny, silencing,  and erasure of women in the Bible and how scripture is used to justify the ongoing violence against women, BIPOC and LGBTQ folk. 

Note that i've been playing with the title and have changed it from its original, "So Many Are Silent, So Many Unnamed."