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Sound Poetry - A Survey
Steve McCaffery

From Sound Poetry: A Catalogue, edited by Steve McCaffery and bpNichol, Underwich Editions, Toronto, 1978


The 1950s saw the development of what might be termed a third phase in sound poetry. Prior to this time, in a period roughly stretching from 1875 to 1928, sound poetry's second phase had manifested itself in several diverse and revolutionary investigations into language's non-semantic, acoustic properties. In the work of the Russian Futurists Khlebnikov and Kruchenykh, the intermedia activities of Kandinsky the bruitist poems of the Dadaists (Ball, Schwitters, Arp, Hausmann, Tzara) and the 'paroles in liberta' of the Italian Futurist Marinetti, the phonernatic aspect of language became finally isolated and explored for its own sake. Prior to this there had been isolated pioneering attempts by several writers including Christian Morgenstern (ca. 1875), Lewis Carroll ('Jabberwocky'), August Stramm (ca. 1912), Petrus Borel (ca. 1820), Moliere, the Silesian mystic Quirinus Khulman (1 7th century), Rabelais and Aristophanes. The second phase is convincing proof of the continuous presence of a sound poetry throughout the history of western literature. The first phase, perhaps better-termed, the first area of sound poetry, is the vast, intractible area of archaic and primitive poetries, the many instances of chant structures and incantation, of nonsense syllabic mouthings and deliberate lexical distortions still alive among North American, African, Asian and Oceanic peoples. We should also bear in mind the strong and persistent folkloric and ludic strata that manifests in the world's many language games, in the nonsense syllabery of nursery rhymes, mnemonic counting aids, whisper games and skipping chants, mouth music and folk-song refrain, which foregrounds us as an important compositional element in work as chronologically separate as Kruchenykh's zaum poems (ca. 1910) and Bengt af Klintburg's use of cusha-calls and incantations (ca. 1965). Consequently, the very attempt to write a history of sound poetry is a doomed activity from the very outset. For one thing, there is no 'movement' per se, but rather a complex, often oppositive and frequently antithetical interconnectedness of concerns - attempts to recover lost traditions mix with attempts to effect a radical break with all continuities. What is referred to by 'sound poetry' is a rich, varied, inconsistent phonic geneology against which we can foreground the specific developments of the last two decades.

Russian Futurism

In the work of Khlebnikov and Kruchenykh (ca. 1910) we find the first concerted attempts to isolate the concrete, phonic aspect of language as an autonomous focus of interest. In their manifesto The Word As Such comes the first decisive break with language's symbolic relation to an object, with the consequent disappearance of the thematic and the minimization of the semantic levels. For the Russian futurists, poetic language was to be characterized by its unique organization of the phonic, As Khlebnikov states, 'the element of sound lives a selforiented life.' The organization, then, of language around its own phonic substance, as a self-referring materiality, non- representational and escriptive rather than descriptive, took prime importance in their work. In Kruchenykh especially, the folkloric strata is significant; his concept of 'zaum' (or transrational language) was later to be described by Dada sound poet Raoul Hausmann as 'an old form of popular and folkloric language' and both Khlebnikov and Kruchenykh openly acknowledged their debt to popular forms. For Kruchenykh poetry was a conscious attempt to return language to its a-rational ground. It involved him in the open sacrifice of meaning as a constituent of the poem (or rather meaning in its restricted semantic sense) and the deployment of various 'poetic irregularities' such as clipped words, lexical hybrids, neologisms, and fragmentations.

Italian Futurism

FT Marinetti (1876-1944), the core architect of the Italian Futurist movement, developed a poetic technique called parole in liberta or words in freedom. It was an attempt at syntactic explosion, at the liberation of the word from all linear bondage and the consequent conversion of page, from a neutral surface holding neutral graphic signs, into a dynamic field of typographic and sonographic forces. In performance Marinetti laid heavy stress upon onornatopoeiac structures. Less interesting, morphologically, than the work of Kruchenykh (for in parole in liberta sound is still anchored in a representationality) one may think of Marinetti's work as an attempt to find a more basic connection between an object and its sign, a connection predicated upon the efficacy of the sonic as a direct, unmediated vector. Perhaps the most significant aspect of parole in liberta was its lasting effect upon the poem's visual notation. Marinetti's famous Bombardamento di Adrianapoli, for instance, is a stunning handwritten text of great visual excitement, employing different letter sizes, linear, diagonal and vertical presentations of non-gravitational text, all intended for vocal realization. It marks one of the earliest, successful attempts to consciously structure a visual code for free, vocal interpretation.


It can be safely said that the sonological advances of the futurists have been unfairly eclipsed by the historical prominence that the Dada sound poets have received. Hugo Ball (1886-1926) claims to have invented the 'verse ohne Worte' (poetry without words) which he also termed 'Lautgedichte' or soundpoem. Ball, in a diary entry for 1916, describes the compositional basis for this new poetry: 'the balance of vowels is weighed and distributed solely according to the values of the beginning sequence.' In actual fact, the form is little different from earlier attempts at the end of the nineteenth century by such poets as Morgenstern (Kroklokwafzi was published in 1905) and Paul Scheerbart (whose well known Kikaloku appeared in 1897). Tristan Tzara is noteworthy for his developmentof a pseudo ethnopoetry realized most successfully in his 'Poemes Negres': loose and often pataphysical translations f rom the African which Tzara then used for sound texts. The collective energies of Janco, Ball, Huelsenbeck, Tzara and Arp at the Cabaret Voltaire in Zurich produced the simultaneist poem: a high energy, performance oriented cacophony of whistling, singing, grunting, coughing and speaking. Partly based on the earlier work of Henri Barzun, the simultaneous poem stands as an early example of intermedia. De-fying categorization as either theatre, music or poetry, it emphasized the improvisatory, spontaneous and aleatoric possibilities of multivocal expression. Raoul Hausmann is perhaps the most significant of the Dadasonosophers and largely because of his instrumental advancements in the techniques of notation. Hausmann in 1918 developed his 'optophonetics' which used typographic variations in size to indicate proportionate variations in pitch and volume. Optophonetics is an open code, of low denotation that nevertheless permits a wide range of imaginative interpretation. It is in current use today with many text-sound composers. Perhaps the greatest scope is evidenced in the sound poems of Kurt Schwitters (1887-1948) whose phonetic experiments took him into large and small structures alike. His 'Ur Sonata' ranks as one of the longest of all sound poems, whilst 'W' (a single letter on a white card, and performed with the full gamut of pitch, tone, volume and emotional intensity) must be one of the shortest.

de Stijl

Founded by Theo Van Doesburg in 1917 for both the Dutch avant-garde, de Stijl served as a vital outlet for Italian futurism and European Dada. Doesburg's own work appeared under the pseudonym of I. K. Bonset. In 1921 he published three 'letter-sound images' with the following statement accompanying: 'To take away its past it is necessary to renew the alphabet according to its abstract sound-values. This means at the same time the healing of our poetic auditory membranes, which are so weakened, that a long-term phono-gymnastics is necessary!' Mention too should be made of Arthur Petronio the inventor of 'verbophonie' which made attempts to harmonize phonetic rhythms with instrumental sounds into what Petronio termed 'verbalplasticisms'.


Self-styled in the relatively sparse decade of the forties, Lettrisme, as a 'movement', constituted a particularly creative source of linguistic experimentation. Founded by Isadore Isou and Maurice Lemaitre in Paris, Lettrisme offered a full-scale lexical revolution. Their poetic strategy was to be based, like Doesburg's, upon an alphabetic renaissance, and the use of a totally new lexicon. This Lexique des Lettres Nouvelles drawn up by Isou and Lemaitre comprised over 130 entries to be employed as an alphabet of sound in vocal performance. Other members of the group (still flourishing) were Roland Sabatier, J-B. Arkitu and Jean Paul Curtay. Francois Dufrene, a former member, left the original movement to pursue his own 'ultra- lettrism'. Dufrene's work in many ways culminates the phase of second generation sound poetry; it is charactrized by a vocal purity (Dufrene eschewed entirely the attraction and dangers of the tape recorded), an energetic intensity and - in his cri-rhythmes - an intensely somatic base in sub-phonemic units.

The Current Decades

Sound poetry prior to the developments of the 1950s is still largely a word bound thing. For whilst the work of the Dadaists, Futurists and Lettrists served to free the word from its semantic function, redistributing energy from theme and 'message' to matter and contour, it nevertheless persisted in a morphological patterning that still suggested the presence of the word. It is Dufrene's especial achievement to have pushed the limits centripetally and to have entered into the micro particulars of morphology, investigating the full expressive range of predenotative forms: grunts, howls, shrieks, etc. Important too, in this light, is the way meaning persists as a teleology even in zaum. Khlebnikov, for instance, speaks of new meanings achieved through by-passing older forms of meaning, of meanings 'rescued' by 'estrangement'. Ball, too, speaks of exploring the word's 'innermost alchemy'.

So word persists even in the state of its own ex-communication throughout the century. It could be said that what sound poetry, up to the exploitation of the tape recorder, did was to render semantic meaning transcendental, as the destination arrived at by the disautomatization of sound perception. It is this theological contamination, of the meaning, like God, as a hidden presence, that specifies the limits of sound investigation up until the nineteen fifties. With the fifties, however, came the gift of an external revolution: the availability of the tape recorder to sound poets made audio technological advancement of the art form a reality. To summarize the several revolutionary capabilities that tape allowed: the transcendence of the limits of the human body. The tape machine, considered as an extension of human vocalityallowed the poet to move beyond his own expressivity. The body is no longer the ultimate parameter, and voice becomes a point of departure rather than the point of arrival. Realizing also that the tape recorder provides the possibility of a secondary orality predicated upon a graphism (tape, in fact, is but another system of writing where writing is described as any semiotic system of storage) then we can appreciate other immediate advantages: tape liberates composition from the athletic sequentiality of the human body, pieces may be edited, cutting, in effect, becomes the potential compositional basis in which time segments can be arranged and rearranged outside of real time performance. The tape recorder also shares the micro/macro/phonic qualities allowing a more detailed appreciation of the human vocal range. Technological time can be super added to authentic body time to achieve either an accelerated or decelerated experience of voice time. Both time and space are harnessed to become less the controlling and more the manipulable factors of audiophony. There exists then through recourse to the tape recorder as an active compositional tool, the possibility of 'overtaking' speech by the machine. Sound poetry mobilizes a certain technicism to further the cleconstruction of the word; it permits, through deceleration, the granular structure of language to emerge and evidence itself. Phonetic poetry, the non-semantic poetry of the human voice, is more limited in its deconstructional scope, for it accepts the physical limitations of the human speaker as its own limitations. The tape recorder, however, allows speech - for the firsttime in its history -a separation from voice. The advantages of tape began to be realized in the fifties. Henri Chopin (b.1922) makes the decisive break from a phonetic basis to sound poetry and develops his self-styled 'audiopoems'. The audiopoem utilizes microphones of high amplification to capture vocal sounds on the threshold of audition. In this respect Chopin's work can be regarded in the tradition of lexical decomposition outlined above. But the audiopoem constitutes a much more fundamental break with the whole tradition of western poetics.

Chopin's early work (ca. 1955) comprised the decomposition and recomposition of vowels and consonants. Still connected to the word, these pieces can best be described as technological assaults upon the word. The word is slowed down, speeded up and superimposed up to fifty times, whilst additional vocalic texture is provided by a variety of respiratory and buccal effects. Later, Chopin discovered and used the 'micro-particle' as the compositional unit of his work, abandoning the word entirely. This marks the birth of 'poesie sonore', which Chopin distinguishes from 'poesie phonetique'.

Chopin's art is an art entirely dependent on the tape recorder. Chopin's 'vocal micro- particulars' are only realizable through the agency of modern tape technology. It is an irrevocable marriage. His material comprises the full gamut of orally produced phenomena beyond and beneath the atomic limit of the phoneme.

Bernard Heidsieck commenced sound poetry in 1955 with his 'poempartitions' and, since 1966 on, a species he terms 'biopsies'. Both types are rooted in a direct relation to everyday life. Heidsieck sometimes refers to both the biopsies and poem-partitions as 'action' poems (not to be confused with the action poetry of either Steve McCaffery or Robert Filliou). 'Action' since the pieces incorporate the actuality of quotidian soundscapes: subways, streetcars, taxis. Texts utilized are often found and superimposed and involve complex variations in tape speed, volume and editorial juxtaposition. In addition to their value as social comment, Heidsieck sees his sound texts existing within the domain of 'a ritual, ceremonial or event' that assumes an interrogative stance vis a vis our daily wordscapes. The day to day is appropriated and animated to make meaningful 'our mechanical and technocratic age by recapturing mystery and breath'. Heidsieck incorporates the taped-text within the context of live performance and plays off his own live voice against his own voice recorded. It is a positive solipsism that frequently results in a rich textural fabric. Since 1969 Heidsieck has called his tape compositions 'passe-partout' viz. universal pass keys. The passe-partout marks a further development in Heidsieck's central interest: the use of everyday, incidental soundscapes to be isolated and presented in their intrinsic integrity and their electroacoustic modification.

The first text-sound compositions in Sweden were by Öyvind Fahlström in 1961 and 1962, followed in 1964 and 1965 by Bengt Emil Johnson and Lars-Gunnar Bodin. By 1967 virtually all text-sound composition had centered around the Fylkingen Group for Linguistic Arts. Sweden has become the center for technical-acoustic sound poetry; its studios in Stockholm are currently unrivalled, and the resultant pieces display a remarkable degree of sophistication. The main artists are Bengt Emil Johnson, Sten Hanson, Ilmar Laaban, Lars-Gunnar Bodin, Svante Bodin, Bengt af Klintberg (who makes extensive use of local dialect and folklore elements), Ake Hödell and Christer Hennix Lille. Lille was one of the first artists to employ synthetic speech in a texts-ound composition (Still Life, 'Q') in which the synthesizer's computer unit is programmed to produce reshaped oscillations, mutation frequencies and deliberate distortions in syntax and pronunciation. Though it would be misleading to suggest a single'Swedish School' of text-sound composition, it can be said that the general interconnected concern is the exploitation of that interface between art and technology The Bodins, Hanson, Johnson, Laaban, Hodell and Lille all subject texts to electronic modification and transformation.

In Italy, post-futurist developments have been noteworthy. Mimmo Rotella (b. 1918) developed an 'epistaltic' language, anchored in live performance and in the tradition of phonetic plasticization noted in the Lettristes, futurists and Dadaists. Arrigo Lora Totino (b. 1928) however has concerned himself with both live performance and tape manipulation. A man of extreme inventiveness, Totino has developed the Idrornegafono, a rotating horn allowing a projection of the speaker's voice in a 360 degree circle. Totino has used the hydromegaphone in a series of 'liquid poems' in which the voice is sounded through water. Mauricio Nannucci is another Italian sound poet who has devoted much additional energy into organizing manifestations and anthologies of text-sound composition.

In the Netherlands, Herman Damen has developed two sonic genres: verbosony and verbophony. The former deals with vocalized morphemic elements aligned, configurated and concatenated with each other. Verbophony relies upon the electronic treatment of voice in a manner similarto that developed by the Fylkingen Group for Linguistic Arts. Damen's total aim is much more ambitious than the parallel development of two sound genres. Both Verbosony and Verbophony he sees as two elements of Verbal -Plasticism which in itself forms part of Phonography which attempts 'to investigate the possibilities that there are for a relationship between sound and picture, between speech morphemes and letter fragments, between audible and visual rhythms.' Phonography exemplifies one of the central concerns in current sonic poetries: the desire not to harden into a fixist category, the desire to connect with other media and explore practically the margins of aesthetic categories. There has been much activity in Holland since the fifties. In addition to Damen are Paul de Wee (b. 1919), Gerrit Pleiter (who has combined verbosony with radio plays), Gust Gils who has extended investigations in the area of non-semantic destinations through tape manipulation, Tera de Marez Oyens who has used tape delay to great effect in compositions she calls vocaphonies. Greta Monach's work (such as her Automerga) isolates single spoken sounds as abstract, syntagmatic clusters which she terms'words'. The semantic level, whilst never totally obliterated, is never prominent. Unlike Henri Chopin, Monach locates within the tension of conflicting categories to produce compositions that draw upon the familiar and the unfamiliar response. Michael Gibbs is a British poet now living in Holland. A multi-disciplinarian, he has developed a series of chancegenerated sound-texts. This stream of aleatoric composition runs deep through the geneology of sound; it is evident in the Dadaist use of chance and reaches great refinement in the work of Gibbs and the American poet Jackson MacLow.

In Great Britain sound texts started to appear in the earlier sixties. Bob Cobbing, a tireless innovator and publisher, began his sonic explorations as an integral step within concrete poetry. Concrete Sound, as Cobbing terms it, is a 'return to an emphasis on the physical structure of language ... the sign made by the voice ...' Cobbing centralizes several diverse threads in his work. Tantric, Dada, Shaman, intermedia are all present in his solo work and group manifestations (The Konkrete Canticle and, more recently, AbAna.) His texts he terms 'song signals'; they are low clenotational, highly suggestive codes permitting maximum imaginative interpretation. One of Cobbing's lasting contributions to text-sound activity is his revolutionising of what can constitute a 'text'. Cobbing (along with Paula Claire) has frequently abandoned the graphic imprint and received 'song signals' from natural objects: a cross-section of a cabbage, a stone, a piece of rope, the textured surface of bricks, cloth etc. Text can be anything. Paula Claire's contributions to opening up the domain of textuality to conventionally nontextual objects are especially important. Her work investigates the complexities of micro- linguistic elements along analogical lines to nuclear physics, molecular biology, computer miniaturization etc. Since 1973 she has been performing her 'pattern sounds': i.e. sound improvisations on the surface patterns and textures of inanimate objects. Her Codesigns (1976) use photomicropgraphs as texts; they are a stunning synthesis of code and sound. 'To sound these codes,' writes Claire, 'is to approach the miracle of the gestation of language.' Since the mid 1960s she has been working with live improvisation and audience participation: 'I wish to be a catalyst, not a performer to a passive audience.' Claire's work capsulizes and exemplifies several of the concerns of contemporary text-sound composers, especially the synthesis of a highly sophisticated codicity (how more complex and how more simple can you get than a wood knot as a score?) and the desire for a human contextualization of heuristic activities in a shared, communal experience.

A brief survey of European text-sound composition should include mention of several other artists. Brion Gysin, working in the earlier sixties, adapted techniques borrowed from the visual arts to language, and conceived the permutational poem in which semantic units are treated as mobile modules. it might best be described as a syntactic rather than sonic poetry investigating the possibility of verbal liberation (parole in liberta) through exhausting the totality of possible combinations. Gils Wolman, working alongside Dufrene in the 1950s, gave sound poetry the megapneumes. With an intensely physical anchoring in the potential of the human vocal- respiratory system, Wolman pursued language back beyond the threshold of the word and letter to breath, energy and emotion. The form bears comparison with Olson's statements on 'the laws and particularities of breath' as outlined in his essay on projective verse, for the megapneume and Dufrene's crirhythmes demonstrate the full implication of a pneumatic centered communication.

Austria's sound poet par excellence is Ernst Jandl, the principle practitioner of phonetic poetry. Jandl's pieces employ processes of word fragmentation and recomposition to alter meanings by elaborate structural puns. Germany's major exponents are Gerhard Rhum and Frans Mon; in Yugoslavia Katalinal-aclik, and in Czechoslovakia Ladislav Novak.

Sound poetry has been a later development in North America and has developed in part from a very different background. Practitioners in Canada and the United States have, in general, pursued a non-specialist line, there has occurred much more of a horizontal integration of a sonic art into more conventional concerns. Jackson MacLow, in New York, introduced systematic chance operations, simultaneities and assymetries and ranks as one of the most seminal influences on the continent. His performed work is rich and varied; many are complex realizations of written chance generated structures, much else is a complex interweave of multiple voice and tape. MacLow has been seminal in relocating poetry in the alternative domain of programme and procedure; meanings are not imposed but rather auto-compose themselves and syntactic and phonemic structures are selfdetermined. In the work of Jerome Rothenberg we find the highly significant fusion of ethnopoetry and modernity. Rothenberg, conceptor of total translation, has arrived at a new performative based very largely on translative methods. A highly important researcher into primitive poetries, Rothenberg offers a diachronic alternative to the normally accepted 'history' of poetry. His is an oral hybrid thatfuses avant-gardist concerns (decomposition at the semantic level, repositioning of language within the domain of the body etc.) with tribal oralities. His translations, with Frank Mitchell, of the Senecan 'Horse Songs'are historically unlocateable. Neither primitive nor modern, they hang between chronologies as their own time-defying events. Charlie Morrow works closely with Rothenberg and has developed his art towards the Shamanic. Like so many other contemporary sound artists, Morrow directs his work towards audience participation and intimate settings. He has researched cross-species communication, experimented with breath chants, synchronized mass breathings ('breathe- ins'), sound healing, and vision inducing chanting. John Giorno, a sometime collaborator with Gysin and William Burroughs, is a more syntactically based composer. His works tend to use found material (cf. Heidsieck) which he structures into double repetition patterns textually reinforced and modified by multi-track tape recorder. On the West Coast Michael McClure developed, in the sixties, his beast language which alternated structurally within more syntactically conventional sections. A powerful performer, McClure's beast tantras search for the nexus between biological code and cortical language. Charles Amirkhanian is perhaps the best-known text-sound practitioner currently working in America. His work gives prominence to textual fragmentation by way of rhythmic patterning and configu rations. Larry Wendt is another West Coast artist who, along with Stephen Ruppenthal, registers as possibly the best electroacoustic text-sound composer in the country

In Canada, things start not with Bill Bissett or bpNichol, but with Montreal Automatiste Claude Gauvreau. Gauvreau, working in the 40s, made structural modifications to French Surrealist ideas, especially the diminishment of pictorial image in favour of what he terms 'rhythmic images'. Gauvreau's work, which bears comparison to Artaud and the Dadaists, is theoretically hermetic - a non-semantic language of pure sound which, however, never dominates in any one text. Rather Gauvreau exploits the tension between familiar and unfamiliar linguistic experiences, thrusting the listener into disturbingly volatile states of alternate comprehension and uncomprehension. Gauvreau's influence, however, has never extended outside Quebec (his work, for instance, was a seminal influence of Raoul Duguay) and Anglophone sound poetry does not surface until the early sixties in the work of bpNichol and Bill Bissett. Bissett and Nichol were both familiar with the work of Michael McClure, but it seems that European influence did not occur until well into the sixties. For Bissett, it was the realization that his visual, typographic experimentations could be sounded that led to his first attempts at isolating sound. Nichol's work similarly started with a realization about the syntactic, permutational play of his early concrete poetry. It is live performance and a relatively crude chant-based structure that informs both Bissett's and Nichol's early work. Both of them too, have been significant in pushing poetic composition into the communal domain. For Bissett it was his work with the Mandan Massacre and for Nichol early collaborations with Steve McCaffery and D.W. Harris that indicated the teleology of the poem as a communal product and a collective experience. In 1970 Nichol, McCaffery (after solo and duo sound performances) joined cause with Paul Dutton and Rafael Barreto-Rivera to form the first sound-poetry ensemble, The Four Horsemen. Their work is very much an experiment in collective communication, the sensing of chaning biological-emotional states which guide the shifts and structural decisions in their highly improvisatory performances. Recently a second sound poetry ensemble has emerged: Owen Sound (Steve Smith, David Penhale, Richard Truhlar and Michael Dean). In both Owen Sound and The Four Horsemen an intermedia experience is generated on the liminal zones of theatre, music and poetry.

In Montreal, a similarly collective encleavour has emerged in the work of the Vehicule artists: Stephen Morrissey and Pat Walsh's Cold Mountain Revue; Richard Sommer, Andre Farkas, Ken Norris, Tom Konyves and Claudia Lapp. There has been comparatively little investigation into the technological treatment of voice in Canada. In general, a preference for live performance in group structures has developed as the major single feature. However, Sean O'Huigin and Steve McCaffery have collaborated (together and independently) with electronic composer Ann Southam to produce text-sound compositions of high sophistication: synthesized speech, various speeds, splicings and superimpositions have all been investigated by O'Huigin and McCaffery.

Prior to this Nichol had investigated electroacoustic effects (largely echo and reverb) on his album Motherlove. However, Nichol's interest has never developed beyond this one, isolated instance. In conclusion, it should be said, that this Introduction is intended to be no more than a survey of current concerns against a background that is still being 'invented'. Sound Poetry is marked as much by its differences as its similarities. It is, above all, a practice of freedom. Most artists have entered the domain feeling consciously the current inadequacy of language; that need to test all categories, confront the fixist and offer both the problems and solutions of new possibilities. In many poets it has led to a renaissance in awareness; to an acknowledgement of roots much more primitive and universal than the diachronic highpoints of Futurism and Dada. In many others it has led to an open future, to a language without words and hence to a history without history.

Julia Kristeva has written of literary practice as being 'the exploration and discovery of the possibilities of language as an activity which frees man from given linguistic networks'. Sound Poetry is best described as what sound poets do (or as I once answered 'it's a new way to blow out candles'); it thus takes its place in the larger struggle against all forms of preconditioning.

Bring back the future.

Toronto, August 1978