Some use difficult and challenging language. Others write about difficult topics. The writing of some may not correspond to common expectations among readers. Some are simply ornery. For a poet writing in English for American audiences, or a Russian writing for Russian audiences, being difficult might result in a more modestly scaled audience and publication in small journals and small presses — circumscribed circulation in poetic counterpublics.
I first encountered John Taggart’s work while living in Boulder, Colorado, circa 1990. A now long-vanished indie bookstore, the Aion, which had a remarkably rich poetry collection (oh, for the era of real booksellers!), actually called me to say they had a few books I might like.
Editorial note: George Oppen’s poetry first caught the eye of Charles Tomlinson when he singled out The Materials from a number of books that had been sent to him for review. It was a momentous discovery, leading to a prompt exchange of letters and their first meeting, followed by a steadily deepening friendship that lasted until Oppen’s death in 1984.
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.
Trevor Joyce is an Irish poet whose innovation and creativity constitutes a sustained challenge to the conventions of poetry and reading in Ireland and abroad. Writing and publishing in Ireland since 1967, Joyce has seventeen collections of poetry and is cofounder and coeditor of New Writers’ Press.