2010 Avant Writing Symposium at The Ohio State University Thompson Library

Posted: September 1, 2010 in Avant Writing Symposium, book review, collaboration, fluxus, visual poetry
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A previous AW symposium, in 2002, was a huge success, and so this year’s repeat event had been long awaited by the experimental writing community of writers, artists, poets, visual poets, and publishers and performers  of contemporary experimental literature (broadly defined, with Fluxus artists included, of course.)  This year’s symposium was held in the newly renovated Thompson Library at The Ohio State University’s main campus in Columbus Ohio. The following special exhibits were installed in large cases in Thompson Library Exhibit Hall  to show off exemplary materials in the Avant Writing Collection. :

Exhibition of Guillermo Deisler’s UNI/vers, Marilyn R. Rosenberg and David Cole’s Collaboration TRACK, and a selection of materials from The Reed Altemus Collection (curated by Suzanne Silver).

A few special invitations were sent out to participants from Spain, Cuba, Latin America, South America, in part because of additional support from The Dept. of Spanish & Portuguese and The Ctr. for Latin American Studies, and in part because the curator of The Avant Writing Collection is John M Bennett,  has a PHD in Latin American Literature and has recently visited Mexico City, Montevideo Uruguay, the Yucatan, and Guatemala for either tourism of Mayan anthropological sites (with a studied interest in ancient mayan glyphs) or as invited visual poet  for two similar experimental writing/art symposiums. However, the primary reason for inclusion of Latin American experimental writers is because of a long tradition and large community of really incredibly creative writers and visual poets that have been nurtured in our southern hemisphere! I feel incredibly lucky to have been included in those visits and invitations over the past few years.
NOTE ABOUT PHOTO:  Jim Leftwich received the Avant Writing Award “For Excellence in Literature and Exemplary Service” – signed by Geoffrey Smith (Head of Rare Books and Manuscripts) and by John M Bennett (Curator of AWCollection) 20.8.2010 at an awards reception at the end of the 2nd day of the OSU Avant Writing Symposium. (A certificate with a $500.00 monetary award.) In background at left: mIEKAL aND, Center: Jim Leftwich, Right: John M Bennett, in background at right: Marvin and Ruth Sackner

My personal involvement in the symposium:

1. Marilyn R Rosenberg’s display case for the collaborative work by herself and David Cole TRACK needed some extra care taken with the display setup in the giant showcase. So I came to the rescue and unpacked some of the envelopes and a box so that more of  the interesting  “contents” would be displayed, apart from the large envelopes and suitcase that contained those contents.

2. I made a half hour presentation on the last day of the symposium,  including a powerpoint for a visual background. That powerpoint was made up of all the jpeg images submitted by email attachment to my gmail address for the Skylab Visual Poetry Mailart Exhibit. I showed that slideshow again at the mailart vispo exhibit during that evening’s opening events, to compliment the installation of postal mailed vispo.

2a. The first section of my presentation involved conducting a performance by Be Blank Consort members. Nine of them performed My COMPOSITION FOR NINE VOICES WITH TWO INCIDENTAL SECTIONS using vowel sounds and windchimes, while another person counted to twelve, and two others performed “incidents”.  I was able to elect Keith Buchholz and Reed Altemus to perform short Fluxus pieces. Paul Baker has posted a video of the performance here: http://www.youtube.com/pabaker55#p/u/11/31dINZ8JlUw  From left: Keith Buchholz, John M Bennett, Tom Cassidy, Wendy Collin Sorin, Lesley Scott Helmes, Geof Huth, K.S. Ernst, Sheila E Murphy, mIEKAL aND, Nico Vassilakis, Crag Hill, Reed Altemus. All the noise makers (those with windchimes) have performed with JMB in The Be Blank Consort, though not all together before. The various BBC venues have been in Portland, Seattle, Minneapolis, Boston, Baltimore, Roanoke, NYC, Cincinnati, Columbus, Albuquerque, New Albany NY, New Brunswich NJ, Baltimore, Prescott AR (what have I left out?). There were additional BBC performers in the audience who had to be left out (Olchar Lindsann, Tomislav Butkovic, and Warren Fry–maybe even others!) due to a limit of voices in the score. A shame that Olchar didn’t come up front sooner, as his performance at the symposium had been a BLOW YOUR SOCKS OFF perfomance — absolutely the best form I’ve ever seen him in!

2b. I passed out two word phrases (which I’ve posted farther on in this blog) called “ROAD TOADS” to the audience and asked them to recite their phrase, one by one, as each slide advanced on the screen. A few of the phrases accidentally complimented the visual poetry image on the screen, as I remember a computer manipulated vispo by Sheila E Murphy (blue toned) coincided nicely with one of the phrases that were read.

2c. I read a few poems from my book “WHAT IT SAYS” http://www.lulu.com/product/paperback/what-it-says/5207489 to close out my presentation at the symposium, made mention of Marilyn R Rosenberg’s book “etceteras” and Matthew Stolte’s book “eden” and invited all to come to the Skylab opening that night in downtown Columbus to view the above mentioned mailart visual poetry exhibit and a retrospective 0f vispo by my spouse, John M Bennett, curator of the OSU Avant Writing Collection, great performances and the collab fest that Jim Leftwich had planned.

3.  BOTH digitally submitted and postal mailed visual poetry are documented at http://visualpoetrymailartexhibit.blogspot.com/ , including my photos taken 8/21/10 of the Skylab opening Saturday night events.  I’ve  shared a list of mail artists’ addresses with all the participants and interested parties by post, email, or by handouts at the symposium and at Skylab Gallery.  The  mailart installation comes down tomorrow (I’d installed it two weeks ago with the professional help of Sarah Weinstock), then the final step  of preparing it for The OSU Avant Writing Collection begins. Take a look at the documentary blog, & you will also see  a few people at the Skylab opening participating in ART DETOX fun. The ART DETOX graphic (and idea) was instigated by Vittore Baroni (Italy) for anyone to download off the internet and attach to paper bags for performance fun during 2010. These two paper bags were left over from a previous OSU Urban Arts Space performance by JMB and myself, so they were all ready for our Saturday night Skylab opening fun!

3b. I did help transport John’s framed visual poetry (many of which I’d matted and framed for John) to Skylab for our son, John Also Bennett, to install. John Also also curated that exhibit, as he had to eliminate pieces due to limited space and a need to represent different periods in a balanced way. He did an excellent job hanging the retrospective in visually compelling groups. I provided a book of a mailart interview of JMB that Ruud Jansson had done 15 years ago, and the clip mobile with 10 of JMB’s  TLPs (Tacky Little Pamphets), and ensured that The Baron’s 3-D hanging construction of a vertical set of JMB’s poems was also  included.

AND YET, there was SO MUCH else happening during the Avant Writing Symposium because SO MANY great people came (some traveling so far!) to share and partake of one another’s work/play and we enjoyed getting to know each other person to person. Also some nifty performances happened at the Skylab opening, including our Cleveland OH native Luigi Bob Drake and Columbus natives John Also Bennett and Larry Marotta, Fluxus performances and performances by the Post Neo Absurdist Anti-Collective. John has collected photos from the AW Symposium and Skylab opening night which were taken by various people. They’re posted at his Flickr website at: www.flickr.com/beblank  but also at the official Avant Writing Symposium OSU SITE HERE. A Skylab Collaboration Fest was organized by Jim Leftwich and resulted in a presentation box (decorated by Keith Buchholz) filled with TLP collabs, etc. for JMB at the end of the evening. Very nice. I would mention a few of my FAVORITE presentations at the AW Symposium, but there were SO MANY great ones, plus a couple that I missed due to simultaneous presentations in different rooms at the library. It might be helpful just to list the participants that made presentations, but there were many more participants that DID NOT present but were still SO VALUABLE to us all for simply BEING THERE and interacting with us!  Still, the symposium kick off  deserves special mention:

Keynote Address: Dr. Marvin A. Sackner

Erotica, Pornography, and Obscenity in Contemporary Concrete and Visual Poetry, and, Visual Verbal Imagery

The collection that Dr. Sackner focused on included works by both men and by women, of both male and female subject matter, and from olden times when it didn’t take much to be labeled “obscene” to contemporary times when what is available to the public on MTV can be intimidating, at least to someone like me (aged mid-fifties/  raised Catholic in a small town/ never had cable). Dr. Sackner (whom we know casually as “Marvin”) made special mention of D.A.Levy http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/D._A._Levy and some others who came up against the establishment because of the controversial nature of some of their creative works. But mostly, I just enjoyed seeing his slides for the shear beauty and creative nature of the visual poetry he had culled from his (and Ruth Sackner’s) collection to share with us: Much of which I might never have been able to see otherwise! … and as such, it was a very impressive  keynote address. Thankyou Marvin and Ruth Sackner.

AND THANKYOU Reed Altemus, for your very impressive collection, of which Suzanne Silver delved into for some awesome publications, mailart, fluxus materials, correspondence, etc. for display in the exhibit hall.  AND, again,  it was great fun and an honor for me to be trusted with Marilyn R Rosenberg/David Cole’s TRACK materials in order to artfully display more of the  incredible vispo contents on the floor of the giant display case. Much of the  collaboration process between Marilyn and David was lovingly preserved in playfull envelopes and postcard/letter correspondence, even aside from direct visual, object, & word play.

OK, I give in, here’s a list of all the OTHER presenters: (This does not count those participants who provided their publications for sale in The Avant Store, for which we were all so grateful to view and/or purchase!)

Keith A. Buchholz & Reed Altemus

FluxFast: Performing Fluxus Scores by Contemporary Networkers

Tom Beckett

Questions: What do I know? What should I do?

Lizabel Mónica

21st Century Cuba: Literature in Transition

K. S. Ernst

Three-Dimensional Poetry: the Ghosts of Words

Suzanne Silver

Blacklists/Whitelists: An Artist’s Book

Paul Baker

Wordsalad: A Radio Show

William James Austin

Deformatism and the Avant-Garde

Nico Vassilakis

Staring at Vispo: LETTERS

Thomas M. Cassidy

Disjointed: A Performance

The Be Blank Consort: Scott Helmes, K. S. Ernst, Sheila E. Murphy, John M. Bennett, Michael Peters, Geof Huth, Thomas M. Cassidy, mIEKAL aND, Nico Vassilakis, and others

Sound Poetry Performance at OSU Urban Arts Space/Larry Marotta Hour  (downtown Columbus)

Olchar E. Lindsann

Somasemia: Poems Wearing Meat-Suits

Gerald Schwartz

Strategies Against the God of World: Bring Me the Head of the Semiotic Goethe (performance)

William R. Howe

Holographic Poetry: Disrupted by Hand

Luis Bravo video presentation:

Tamudando/Ischanying (Voces & Sonidos/Voices & Sounds)

Sheila E. Murphy 

Text and Art to Honor the Occasion: Renewing the Public Role of Poetry and Art

Joel Lipman

The Sciart of Bern Porter’s Found Poetry

Martín Gubbins

Presentation of Visual Poetry: London Poems

Jean Kusina

Visual-Cine-Poetry: The Alphabetical Experimental in Film and Video

Rachel Heberling

To Achieve Typing Power: An Artist’s Book

Loss Pequeño Glazier

Guaniauiqui: What Is the Digital Avant-Garde?

C. Mehrl Bennett

Mailart, Visual Poetry, Fluxus: A Connection

Roger Santiváñez

De Huidobro a Parra: Martín Gubbins & Beyond

Antonio Bonome

The Visual Arts and William S. Burroughs

Crag Hill & Nico Vassilakis

The Lastvispo Anthology: What Then, What Now?

John M. Bennett

Reading/Performance & Las Cabezas Mayas/Maya Heads

Award Reception, 11th floor, Thompson Library (2010 Recipient: Jim Leftwich)

Jorge Luiz Antonio

Digital Avant-Garde Experimental Poetry: Another Genre of Contemporary Poetry?

Reid Wood

Don’t: Performance

Mary Jo Bole

Toilet Worship/Toilet Talk

Endwar (Andrew Russ)

An Eye for an I

Wilton Azevedo

Atame Angustia do Precario: Visual Poetry

Will Napoli

Protext and Then Some

Roger Santiváñez

Poetry Reading Neo-Barrok

Michael Peters

A Press Conference Celebrating the Donation of Priceless Archival Fleury Colon Material to the OSU Libraries

David Baratier (Also presenting for David Baptiste Chirot in abstentia)

The Vizpo of Public Space

Thomas L. Taylor In Memoriam: A Reading

John M. Bennett, Olchar E. Lindsann, Tom Cassidy, Sheila E. Murphy, Warren Fry, Michael Peters, F. A. Nettelbeck, Michael Peters

Geof Huth

What Word Once Was

mIEKAL aND & Camille Bacos

Tzara in Oblivion

  1. Thanks for all the preparation and then this great write-up Cathy–what a great weekend!


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