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Concrete Poetry and the New Performance Arts: Intersemiotic, Intermedia, Intercultural

  • Claus Clüver
Chapter

Abstract

At least eleven international anthologies published between 1965 and 1970 in Germany, England, the United States, Mexico, Italy, and the Netherlands carried the label “Concrete poetry” (in their respective languages).1 The most lavish, Mary Ellen Solt’s Concrete Poetry:A World View (1968), showed samples of the work of seventy-nine poets from seventeen European countries as well as Turkey, Brazil, Mexico, the United States, Canada, and Japan. The last to be published was the catalogue of an exhibition, “klankteksten / ? konkrete poëzie / visuele teksten,” organized in 1970 by Liesbeth Crommelin for the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, from where it was to go to Stuttgart and Nürnberg and then to Liverpool and Oxford. It presented the work of 140 visual poets, including nine from Japan, and was accompanied by a record with “Concrete Sound Poetry” by nine poets/performers. There were apparently no poets from other Far Eastern countries involved in this movement that had begun in the early 1950s in several European countries and Brazil, had received its name in 1956 in an act of transatlantic baptism via correspondence between Eugen Gomringer, a Swiss-Bolivian poet living in Germany, and the “Noigan-dres” poets, a group of young men from São Paulo,2 had manifested itself in numerous exhibitions and performances, and by 1970 was considered to have run its course.3

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Notes

  1. 1.
    The anthologies by year are: Max Bense and Elisabeth Walther, eds., Konkrete poésie international, rot (Stuttgart, 1965) no. 21Google Scholar
  2. Stephen Bann, ed., Concrete poetry issue, Beloit Poetry Journal 17,1 (1967)Google Scholar
  3. Stephen Bann, ed., Concrete Poetry: An International Anthology (London: London Magazine Editions, 1967)Google Scholar
  4. Eugene Wildman, “Anthology of Concretism,” Chicago Review 19, 4 (1966)Google Scholar
  5. Emmett Williams, ed., An Anthology of Concrete Poetry (New York: Something Else Press, 1967)Google Scholar
  6. Mary Ellen Solt, “A World Look at Concrete Poetry,” Artes Hispánicas /Hispanic Arts 1, 3–4 (1968)Google Scholar
  7. Adriano Spatola, “Antologia delia poesia concreta,” II peso del concreto, ed. Ezio Gribaudo (Torino, 1968)Google Scholar
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  9. Max Bense and Elisabeth Walther, eds., Konkrete poesie international 2. rot (Stuttgart, 1970) no. 41Google Scholar
  10. Liesbeth Crommelin, ed., klankteksten / ? konkrete poëzie / visuele teksten (Amsterdam: Stedelijk Museum, 1970).Google Scholar
  11. The earliest international anthology using “Concrete Poetry” as the collective title was Eugen Gomringer’s “Kleine Anthologie konkreter Poesie,” Spirale 8 (1960): 37–44.Google Scholar
  12. The international anthologies were followed by larger or smaller collections of British Concrete Poetry, ed. John Sharkey (London: Lorrimer, 1971)Google Scholar
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  14. Poesia Concreta em Portugal, ed. José Alberto Marques and E. M. de Melo e Castro (Lisboa: Assírio & Alvim, 1973).Google Scholar
  15. The Brazilian “Noigandres” group had collectively published its own work as early as 1962 (Augusto de Campos, Décio Pignatari, Haroldo de Campos, José Lino Grünewald, and Ronaldo Azeredo, Antologia: do verso à poesia concreta, 1949–1962 (São Paulo: Massao Ohno, 1962).Google Scholar
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  18. 2.
    A much-quoted event first documented in Augusto de Campos, Décio Pignatari, and Haroldo de Campos, Teoria da Poesia Concreta: Textos Críticos e Manifestos 1950–1960 (São Paulo: Edições Invenção, 1965), 194.Google Scholar
  19. 4.
    This is my most recent definition of an intermedia text (in distinguishing it from a multimedia or a mixed-media text), in response to the criticism of my earlier formulation voiced by Jürgen E. Müller, “Intermedialität als poetologisches und medientheoretisches Konzept,” Intermedialität: Theorie und Praxis eines interdisziplinären Forschungsgebiets, ed. Jörg Helbig (Berlin: Erich Schmidt Verlag, 1998), 38, n7Google Scholar
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  21. 5.
    See for example Craig Saper’s exploration of Augusto de Campos’ “codigo” in “Under Cancellation: The Future Tone of Visual Poetry,” ExperimentalVisualConcrete: Avant-Garde Poetry Since the 1960s, ed. K. David Jackson, Eric Vos, and Johanna Drucker (Amsterdam: Rodopi, 1996), 309–16.Google Scholar
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  24. 8.
    Haroldo de Campos published a Portuguese version of his translation in his essay “Poesia Concreta no Japão” (Estado de São Paulo, Suplemento Literário, 10 May 1958)Google Scholar
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  27. 9.
    From Wassily Kandin-sky, Sounds, trans. Elizabeth R. Napier (New Haven:Yale University Press, 1981).Google Scholar
  28. 13.
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    According to the “Sinopse do movimento da poesia concreta” published at the end of Teoria da Poesia Concreta: Textos Críticos e Manifestos 1950–1960, by Augusto de Campos, Décio Pignatari, and Haroldo de Campos, 3rd ed. (São Paulo: Brasiliense, 1987), the first “oralization” of the “Poetamenos” poems (published in 1955) took place in 1954 (193).Google Scholar
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  33. 20.
    On the complex question of the status of the subjectivity in experimental poetry, see Friedrich W. Block, Beobachtung des ‘Ich’: Zum Zusammenhang von Subjektivität und Medien am Beispiel experimenteller Poesie (Bielefeld: Aisthesis Verlag, 1999).Google Scholar
  34. 21.
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  37. 22.
    A Portuguese translation of his essay is contained in the second Brazilian edition of his Obra Aberta: Forma e indeterminação nas poéticas contemporâneas, trans. Giovanni Cutolo (São Paulo: Perspectiva, 1971), 203–25Google Scholar
  38. 23.
    Eugen Gomringer, “vom vers zur konstellation: zweck und form einer neuen dichtung” (1954–55), reprint in Theorie der konkreten Poesie: Texte und Manifeste 1954–1991 (Wien: Edition Splitter, 1997), 12–18, quote 16.Google Scholar
  39. 24.
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  42. 31.
    Jean M. Borgatti and Richard Brilliant, Likeness and Beyond: Portraits from Africa and the World (New York: The Center for African Art, 1990).Google Scholar
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  44. Felix Andreas Bau-mann, org., Text Buchstabe Bild, exhibition catalogue, Helmshaus Zürich, July 11-August 23, 1970 (Zürich: Zürcher Kunstgesellschaft, 1970).Google Scholar
  45. 34.
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  46. 35.
    Dietrich Mahlow, ed., Auf ein Wort! Aspekte visueller Poesie und visueller Musik, exhibition catalogue, Gutenberg-Museum, Mainz, 1987 (Mainz: Edition Braus, 1987).Google Scholar
  47. 36.
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  48. 38.
    A very recent compilation, in Russian, is Dmitry Bulatov’s 591-page A Point of View: Visual Poetry: The 90s, An Anthology (Königsberg: Sim-plisii, 1998).Google Scholar
  49. 39.
    Klaus-Peter Dencker, ed., Visuelle Poesie aus Japan: Eine Ausstellung der Kulturbehörde der Freien und Hansestadt Hamburg, catalogue (Hamburg: Kulturbehörde, 1997).Google Scholar
  50. 42.
    See the illustrations from Kriwet’s Textroom in Imaged Words & Worded Images, ed. Richard Kostelanetz (New York: Outerbridge & Dienstfrey/Dutton, 1970), 14–18.Google Scholar
  51. 43.
    In Emmett Williams’ Sweethearts (New York: Something Else Press, 1967), all pages of the erotic poem cycle contain texts formed by letters contained in a square formed by eleven repetitions of the eleven-letter word “sweethearts”; some of the pages also form “kinetic metaphors” that may be created “by flipping the pages fast enough to obtain a primitive cinematic effect” (E. W.).Google Scholar
  52. 44.
    E. M. de Melo e Castro, Poética dos Meios e Arte High Tech (Lisboa: Vega, 1988)Google Scholar
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    Eduardo Kac, ed., New Media Poetry: Poetic Innovation and New Technologies, topical issue, Visible Language 30,2 (1996)Google Scholar
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    Michael Webster’s Reading Visual Poetry after Futurism: Marinetti, Apollinaire, Schwitters, Cummings (New York: Peter Lang, 1995) sheds some light on the performance aspects of these poets’ work.Google Scholar
  56. For the Russian scene, see Gerald Janecek, Zaum:The Transrational Poetry of Russian Futurism (San Diego: San Diego State University Press, 1996)Google Scholar
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    Mel Gordon, ed., Dada Performance (New York: PAJ Publications, 1987).Google Scholar
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  60. 50.
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  61. 51.
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  62. Fernando Aguiar, org., 1.° Festival Internacional de Poesia Viva, exhibition catalogue, April and May, 1987, Figueira da Foz (Figueira da Foz, Portugal: Museu Municipal Dr. Santos Rocha, 1987)Google Scholar
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  64. See also: Fernando Aguiar and Gabriel Rui Silva, orgs., Concreta. Experimental. Visual: Poesia Portugesa 1959–1989, exhibition catalogue, April 10–17, 1989, Università di Bologna, Palazzo Herculani (Lisboa: Instituto de Lingua e Culture Portuguesa, 1989).Google Scholar
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    For a short introduction, see Eduardo Kac, “Holopoetry and Hyperpoetry,” in The Pictured Word, ed. Martin Heusser, Claus Clüver, Leo Hoek, and Lauren Weingarden (Amsterdam: Rodopi, 1998), 169–79.Google Scholar

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© Claire Sponsler and Xiaomei Chen 2000

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  • Claus Clüver

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