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Chris Funkhouser Reviews The Last Vispo Anthology

By Harriet Staff


Early last month, we highlighted a review of The Last Vispo Anthology which examined how the anthology takes up the issue of digital media. Chris Funkhouser’s more recent review for Rain Taxi (complete with digital footnote), provides a helpful overview of the entire work. We find his assessment of the diverse aesthetics in the anthology especially astute:

Likewise, the artistry involved with The Last Vispo Anthology conforms to no singular aesthetic. Individuality and non-trivial polemical ideologies do emerge, although it becomes clear, in a close study of the work, that while some visual poets have a “signature” style or political objective, many excel at performing variably. A telling example of this trait is found in Fernando Aguiar’s works, which appear in Lettering, Object, and Typography sections of the anthology; his “Ecological Sonnet,” a poetic photograph of a suburban park, diverges in all possible ways from his “Hh,” which collages letters and watercolor painting atop a sheet of braille. Derek Beaulieu’s “Untitled” sculptural assemblages of rigid, checkered, stencil letterforms in the Lettering section impressively contrast with the fluid miasma of myriad shapes, letters, and lines he limns in “Untitled (for Natalie and Jeremy)” that appears in Typography. K.S. Ernst’s contributions, as seen in “Viole(n)t” and “Hard to Hear Year” (Object), include three-dimensional sculpture-word-poems that use lighting and shadowing to amplify visual play. Another type of work she presents, “Drop Caps” (Typography), even though comparatively flattened, reflects a completely different kind of complexity resulting from the addition of scattered of words, clear symbolic shaping and hand painted elements. These are just a few of the works included in the anthology, but they well illustrate how imprints and impressions can be made using multiple approaches; we rarely delve into the same visual poem twice.

We’re still reading and looking through our copy, enjoying the sheer abundance and diversity of work gathered together. Funkhouser concludes his review with some thoughts about the future of the anthology and indeed of the entire artistic discipline of visual poetry:

As the book progresses, its multiplicity and energy only gains momentum; if there are any contemporary poetry anthologies that are likely to bring what Blake described as “eternal delight,” The Last Vispo Anthology will be among them. In fact, the word “Last” in this book’s title clearly indicates not a final “say” on the subject or the “end” to the importance of documenting such works, but rather gives this artistic discipline and pursuit a solid material platform upon which to persevere through the delicate and delirious ephemeral morass of networked information.

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Posted in Poetry News on Tuesday, February 12th, 2013 by Harriet Staff.