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Evening Will Come: Women Looking at The Last Vispo Anthology

By Harriet Staff

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Over at The Volta, “Evening Will Come” collects responses from women poets–including Jessica Smith, Amaranth Borsuk, and Sharon Mesmer–on visual poetry. Curated by Nico Vassilakis, the collection of responses is in direct opposition to the “sausage fest” that has inhabited visual poetry since the 1960s.

It’s true, the genre of visual poetry has primarily been a sausage fest. The concrete poetry anthologies of the 1960s, it seems, ignored women completely even though one of its renowned editors, Mary Solt, was female. Much has changed since then, but clearly not enough to promote the idea that visual poets can be either male or female. For decades, it’s been a global boys club in need of being cracked open and invaded by women.

Enter The Last Vispo Anthology: Visual Poetry 1998-2008, which includes more women than ever published in an international collection of visual poetry. In editing the anthology, Crag Hill and I, were aware of this problem and tried to overcome the imbalance. Our contributing editors consisted of two men and two women. Since finishing the book we have become pleasantly, if not unfortunately aware of more active or newly active female visual poets.

There’s no easy fix to what fifty plus years of neglect has done. More publishing, more exposure of visual poets would help, would alleviate this issue.

So, this Evening Will Come feature is one way to begin. We invited poets, female poets, to engage with The Last Vispo Anthology, to respond as poets/vispoets to visual poetry. They were asked to look at the book and choose a piece to collaborate with, and this they did. In both critical and poetic responses, the poets convey how they think, feel and see the work. We hope to continue in this direction till some destination comes into view.

Read on at The Volta.

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Posted in Poetry News on Monday, August 5th, 2013 by Harriet Staff.