Free PDF version of “The Salad Rhapsodies,” Vol. 3

Below you will find the final volume of “The Salad Rhapsodies,” an experiment in long-form visual poetry.  It will be available soon for purchase in book (dead tree glossy) form.

The Salad Rhapsodies, Volume 3 (short version)

The Salad Rhapsodies, Volume 3 (long version)


Rambling thoughts

A new mixed media genre would encompass embedding text (poetry, prose) into a visual (or patterned) environment.  This would all be formulated (created) using a computer. The reason it is a novel approach is because concrete/visual poetry was, at least historically, created using typewriters.   We are now in an age in which the creative process begins and ends with the computer.  In a previous post, I argued that the computer is opening up radically new alternatives for writing and narrative. Thus, the ascendancy of the electronic millennium may, in fact, save literature from becoming an irrelevant art form, a sorry atavism from the industrial age.

Luckily over the last few decades, our tools have  been vastly improved.  We must remember the world of the typewriter was predominantly a black and white (textual) world.  The typewriter is a limiting technology compared to the relative versatility/elasticity of the computer; it is incapable of reproducing color or graphics in a split-second. Thus, the concrete poets of the 1950s were constrained by the technology of their time.  Inasmuch as their innovations were radical—and they were quite radical—they were working with what amounts to Stone Age implements.

I believe we are in a state of flux. There is a vacuum to be filled by (textual) innovation. The conceptual poets have pointed us in a direction that is certainly fruitful.  But they seem to be more concerned with appropriation rather than creation.  I advocate appropriation, certainly, and even plagiarism.  Art is a never-ending cycle of recycling the recycled.  The problem is that appropriation for appropriation sake is a spiritual dead-end.  Art must move us in some fundamental way.  Out of appropriation must come creation.


Where are we going with narrative? Part 1

Conceptual poetry/literature takes many shapes and forms.  Lately, the big, radical statement seems to encompass lifting words/text from primary sources (newspapers, novels, sidewalk advertisements, etc. ) and re-imagining/restructuring/shuffling them to create new art.  (See conceptual writing.)

Again, this is a form of sampling, which—as I have already noted—is virtually de rigueur in the wild world of hip hop.  It’s been practiced, of course, in fine art as well, for decades (i.e. Warhol). Now that narrative tricks like meta-fiction, stream of consciousness and rotating points of view have all been depleted and overused, there’s nowhere else to go for the enterprising young (or old, in my case) writer/scribbler/appropriator/artist/mad scientist.

What I propose is a radical hybridization to blur the lines between narrative/prose/verse and the visual arts, thus creating a completely new form/genre of art.  One idea: long poetry novels/narratives filled with pattern/concrete poetry and graphics.  We have seen this in a very limited scope so far—with concrete poetry of the 1950s, and the more recent short visual poetry pieces (last vispo).

Visual poetry and conceptual writing, in general, have pushed the envelope, and innovated far beyond what most of us thought was possible.  But I think we need to be more radical in our approach.  Why not, for instance, a thousand page vispo/pattern piece narrating the history of European anarchism (seemingly prosaic and sectarian, I admit, but pregnant with possibility)?  Some might say this idea is closer to the graphic novel (comics) genre—but there’s hardly any poetic lyricism, for instance, in Alan Moore or those of his ilk.   This is not to say that that genre is without merit, but only that it is not poetry per se.  Perhaps, someone could argue it is, in fact, poetry, though that seems a reach to me.

I’ll try to flesh out my ideas in upcoming posts. I’m still formulating what I think might be a radically new artistic genre.