Thursday, June 28, 2007

fractal economies, by derek beaulieu

A quick litmus test for whether or not you should read derek beaulieu's fractal economies would be to look at the image below:

"sinus headache"

This is one poem from the book.

If you can accept this as a poem, you might enjoy this book.

If you can see it as an exciting poem, one that expands the field of what a poem can be and expands the toolkit of ways poetry can represent, then you might love this book. I did.

"sinus headache," above, is taken from "surface," a long sequence of Letraset experiments that comprises most of the first half of the book. The second half is made up of two other sequences, "depression" and "blister," in which beaulieu investigates other visual means of poetry-making: photocopier and scanner experiments, relief experiments (rubbings), found poems, diagrams, etc. These other sequences are slightly less interesting than "surface," although this might be a matter of personal taste—part of what I enjoyed about the dry transfer experiments, for instance, is their compositional intricacy, a quality that doesn't naturally inhere in, say, a photocopier experiment. Ultimately, I'd argue for the importance of these other sequences as well, for they contribute to the book's larger effect: broadening the field of possible techniques for contemporary visual poetry. (There are, by my count, four poems in the book that don't even use letterforms.)

As an extra bonus for the truly hard-core: the book closes with a theoretical essay by beaulieu, "an afterward after words: notes towards a concrete poetic." I'm still digesting the ideas in this essay, and may write more on it later.

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