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I’ve decided to draw poems…
Jason Guriel recently took a keen-eyed look at the visual poetry we presented in the November 2008 issue of Poetry. One of our readers, Jerry Payne, in Clearwater, Florida, wrote in to say:
“Look, let’s call “visual poetry” what it really is—visual art. Some of us are in love with language and the way in which words—just words—can be put together in relationships that say something. Let’s not continue to water down the concept of poetry any more than it already has been.”
Well, I guess we’ve upped the ante in the February 2009 issue.
There you’ll find a portfolio of Tony Fitzpatrick’s poems, visual poems that I suggest are different in character from the ones discussed on Jason’s thread. Fitzpatrick is both a poet and visual artist, so he certainly knows the difference between one medium and another. In my little introduction to the feature, I quote him on the watery subject of poems as image, particularly in the context of this work constituting a response to Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath; he says
“I’ve thought long and hard about how to make art about this holy place. I didn’t want to draw pictures of people trapped on rooftops, or struggling to stay above the water. The images from cable news seemed pornographic in their quest to wrap tragedy around the commercial breaks. So, for now, I’ve decided on words. . . . I’ve decided to draw poems.”
In one of his Harriet comments, Nico Vassilakis responds to Jason by protesting that
“In this world letters are vulnerable and can’t always stand on their own. Letters alone are typically unwanted things. They are in danger of being individual, of lacking community, of not forming into a word. Isolated.”
I imagine Fitzpatrick would agree. In his work, letters – formed into and made out of images – are repurposed to make a place for the unwanted, lost, and forgotten who still speak to us. I wonder what those who weighed in about Geof Huth’s selection will make of these very different pieces.