Saturday, July 10, 2021

Imagining Language as Online Installance

Imagining Language as The Grin of a Hobbyhorse, by Jeff Crouch & Jim Leftwich (2020)

Imagining Language as The Salt of The Dirt, by Jeff Crouch & Jim Leftwich (2020)

Imagining Language as a Lens Cleaning Wipe, by Jeff Crouch & Jim Leftwich (2020)

Wednesday, July 07, 2021

leftwich/vekemans image to text app

Tuesday, July 06, 2021

Jim Leftwich, ​A Poem Should Not Mean But Ba, Bi Bo, and Bu

 A Poem Should Not Mean But Ba, Bi Bo, and Bu

​------for Jeff Hansen​

Jed Rasula to Mike Chasar (in an exchange published online at the Boston Review website on November 28, 2012) -- "nobody’s ever going to hear about Ashley except from you."

We need more poetry, that much we can safely assume as a given. I think we need a lot more poetry, exponentially more poetry. We need so much poetry that no one can even imagine keeping up with it as it is written.

We make poems to prepare ourselves to make more poems, and to assist others in preparing to make more poems.

The territory of the poem has always been a temporary autonomous zone. The rules of all the other territories do not apply. In the territory of the poem, we really can do exactly what we want to do. It is not my job to tell you otherwise.

As I read, I make a list of words that interest me. Each entry in the list is separated by four vertical spaces. After a while, maybe a few hours, maybe a few days, I return to the top of the list. I continue reading, and adding words to the words in my list.

Sometimes I work in this manner on as many as fifteen poems at once.

Over a period of time, hours, sometimes days, lines begin to form. I might notice the beginning of a rhythmic pattern. Maybe something I'm reading will suggest a phrase, or two. I might find myself in a certain frame of mind, inclined towards phrases rather than words, and spend an hour or so adding phrases to my fragments.

After a while, usually hours, sometimes days, the words and phrases accumulate, and begin to take shape on the page (the screen). Line-breaks are determined by the look of the lines together on the page. I often find a block-like look appealing.  At other times, I consciously resist the appeal of that block-like appearance. A left-aligned, jagged-right-edge look accentuates the visual rhythms of the word-aggregate.

Subsyllabic rhythms are always irregular, and are always more interesting than conventional rhythmic patterns. When I am in the process of composing a poem, I think of a vocable as a neologism without a definition. A vocable, prior to the application of any sort of improvised interpretation, is a letter-string. Letter-strings have a primary visual rhythm composed of the series of shapes contained within the string. As a secondary characteristic, a letter-string will have a range or a spectrum of potential soundings. And, as a tertiary set of possibilities, a letter-string will have a set of semantic extensions, an array of plausible meanings to be attached, if at all, after the letter-string is fully formed.

Suprasyllabic rhythms are always irregular, and are always more interesting than conventional syllabic patterns. The written poem is a form of music, no one is arguing against that assertion, but it is a music for the eyes, not for the ear. Counting the number of words per line is one formal strategy for producing suprasyllabic rhythmic patterns. Breaking lines at exactly the same length is another formal way of foregrounding suprasyllabic, visual rhythmic patterns over the conventional sequential patterns of stressed and unstressed syllables.

Poems are written in the present in order to make room for more poems to be written in the future. This has always been the case. The now poem is never the new poem and the next poem is never more than partially present in the possibilities of all poems past. We must teach ourselves to be out of reach from wherever we find ourselves. The future depends on each one of us doing more than we can know.

Jim Leftwich
May 2021