If there is one concern in my work, it is to reduce the form to the minimum necessary in order to visualize a thought or idea. In an interview with Wilma Lukatsch, Tomas Schmit put it like this: “What you can say with a sculpture you do not need to build as architecture, what you can do with a drawing you do not need to search in image, and what you can clear up on a piece of paper does not need to become a huge drawing; and what you can make up in your mind does not even need any piece of paper.” This is something I can definitely relate to.
From the beginning of my writing, I have been concerned with (floored by) the fact of a word, or a letter, as a thing, a physical, elemental, thing — and the act of contemplating such a thing. In the late ’60s, I noticed the poems of Aram Saroyan — one word, say, “crickets” — printed repeatedly in a single column, in Courier type, down the page. My first works were less poems or writing per se about something than memorials to the fact of words, that they appear and seem to signify.
Erwin Schrödinger developed the thought experiment of Schrödinger’s Cat—where a cat, sealed in a box, is both alive and dead at the same time in a quantum entanglement until an observer looks at the cat, at which point the cat is either alive or dead—to criticize quantum mechanics by showing how the theory breaks down at larger scales and cannot logically represent reality.
Visual poetry is an odd egg: it never seems to extinguish. It continues at the periphery, way back in the corner of our literary eye. Possibly surprising is that many poets around the world have a thriving fascination with text as visual material. Perhaps vispoets stare at words longer than most, but their work is enmeshed in the design elements found in the alphabet and in symbols generally.
Children often have the ability to cut to the chase and say something without dissembling. Within such purity, gems often leave their small mouths, hence the saying, “From the mouth of babes … ” All children possess this capacity, but I suspect that for orphans — or perhaps any child with a difficult (so to speak) background — this ability to swiftly and directly see and analyze is honed.