Why “Words: In/By Hand?”
I’m fascinated by the physically written word, the glimpses of a connection to work “by hand,” the physicality that the tangible artifact embodies and inhabits as one similarly embodies and inhabits work when learning them “by heart.”
The physical evidence of the work of words becomes more valuable as the creation of such becomes a luxury. Chaucer comes to us as illuminated manuscripts out of necessity. More and more I wonder if words I can hold in my hand won’t someday become an artisanal luxury indulged in by a small, enthusiastic cadre akin to today’s vinylistas.
I’m simultaneously intrigued and annoyed by poetry (and “poetry”) I don’t get. I wonder if the poetic emperors are wearing any clothes and if they aren’t, are they in on their own joke? Or am I just that slow and conventional as are most during each successive wave of new poetries and conventions as they go through their cycle from mystifying to commonplace and, sometimes, forgotten?
I loved E. E. Cummings when I was young and I still do. I won’t apologize for it. In this realm, and this realm only, I am mystical. I feel something of the same deep force that Cummings tapped into when I read (?) Bob Grumman’s Mathemaku. And because of that I didn’t dismiss Bob when he argued, passionately, for lighght, an argument (mostly in my head) that ultimately became a turning point in my thinking about all kinds poetry that I don’t have a good term for, not just the clearly related work of Márton Koppány, who I’m excited to have in Truck this month, but also those whose connecting dots are much further apart, such as Bill DiMichele, Alan Sondheim and John M. Bennett.
I’m still learning. I won’t claim to “get” even all of the work you’ll see here in December. The basest and most self-indulgent reason for my theme is simply that I’ve learned it’s OK not to get it. Or not to get it all at once. It’s OK to see where the often mysterious, sometimes opaque, work takes me. It’s OK to leave explication to others and just enjoy the tangled weave of words and visuals without undoing the meaningful knots.
And sometimes I just want to experience, from deep in a digital Plato’s cave, a rippled reflection of the tangible world on the infinite digital canvas.