UbuWeb | UbuWeb Papers | Concrete Poetry: A World View
Mary Ellen Solt
From Concrete Poetry: A World View (1968, Indiana University Press)
Two of England's experimental poets are Dom Sylvester Houédard and John Furnival. Both have developed the new poem along graphic lines. The keys of the typewriter under the fingers of Houédard become instruments for spiritual meditation. "Linga Chakra" is a meditative poem that takes the poet out of words into picture writing that conveys a-spiritual message. Semantic hints are given by the title.
Reproductions leave the impression that Houédard's "Typestracts" are made with a black ribbon, but this is not the case. He uses colored ribbons and carbons. The original of "Linga Chakra" is in blue and magenta. "My own typestracts," Houédard writes:
Contrary to the opinion expressed
by Belloli, Houédard believes the history of concrete poetry
can be "pushed" way back in time: "its roots: the
origin of all graphics--cave paintings pictographs ideograms alphabets
John Furnival, a graphic artist by
profession, uses words and letters as elements of composition
and structure in texts which are meant to be viewed as paintings
or drawings, but they can be read in part as well. The Babel theme,
which interests him most, has been realized in several large-size
tower poems: the Tower of Babel, the Eiffel Tower, the Leaning
Tower of Pisa. He has also constructed a Devil's Trap. "Ring
around a rosy" uses as its central image the moebius strip,
a curiosity of elementary topology. See the WORD GLOSS for a detailed
reading of the text. Furnival edits Openings along with Houédard
and Edward Wright.
Peter Greenham, also of England, has
experimented with the phonetic poem somewhat in the manner of
Ernst Jandl, using syllabic particles, whole words, or short phrases.
A musician, he is particularly interested in the rhythmical aspect
of words. Rather than to England, he traces his origins as a concrete
poet to Vienna, where he lived for twelve years as a close friend
of Gerhard Ruhm and the Vienna group. His first knowledge of Gomringer
and concrete poetry came from this association. His concrete poems
are written in English, although his other writings are in German,
for he finds that language easier to handle where contemporary
developments are concerned.
Although England cannot lay claim
to having been in on the laying of the foundations of the concrete
poetry movement, important exhibitions have been held there. We
have noted the First International Exhibition of Concrete and
Kinetic Poetry in Cambridge in 1964, organized by Mike Weaver.
Another important comprehensive exhibition, Between Poetry and
Painting, organized by Jasia Reichardt, was held at the Institute
of Contemporary Art, London, in 1968. The London TIMES LITERARY
SUPPLEMENT put out two special numbers on international avant
garde poetry on August 6 and September 3, 1964.