Academic journal article Visible Language

Experimental Poetry in Barcelona during the 1990s

Academic journal article Visible Language

Experimental Poetry in Barcelona during the 1990s

Article excerpt

The path that represents the experimentation of poetry enriched with other elements, gathering literatire in a shape that will transcend the traditional literary code, we do not know where it can take us, but what makes it interesting is the surprise of creation.

Joan Brossa

Under the label of experimental poetry, a lot of poetic tendencies are fostered: sound poetry, phonetic poetry, concrete poetry, visual poetry, object poetry, video poetry, action poetry in conclusion, poetry. It is a poetry that tends to blend more and more different artistic disciplines and delete the presupposed frontiers with which orthodoxy resolves to speak about art. Maybe that is why the term "polypoetry" has had such influence in Catalonia during the 1990's, since 1987, the year in which the Italian poet Enzo Minarelli first published the "Manifesto of Polypoetry" in the catalogue Tramesa dArt in Valencia. Because polypoetry is conceived and carried out for live performances and because, taking as a basis sound poetry, it represents the inter-related starting point between this and all other remaining forms of art.

The fact that this article focuses on experimental poetry in the city of Barcelona (implying the rest of Catalonia as well), specifically during the 1990s, has two basic premises. First of all, Barcelona has always had an important poetic activity. Secondly, the last decade has seen a great momentum for expansion of this type of activity marked by two constants: the mixing of artistic disciplines and the aim to spread poetry so that it can reach a live audience. It is significant, in the year 2000, to give a panoramic vision of the ten previous years in the field of the poetic experimentation, focusing on live performances.

The 1990s were an expansive decade, but it must be emphasized that the beginning of this period of experimental poetry progress lies in the work carried out by previous poets, some with certain recognition such as joan Brossa, Guillem Viladot and even Caries Hac Mor, and others more underground, without well-known publishers and with no media attention. This is the case of Xavier Sabater,2 diffuser of polypoetry in Catalonia and in Spain, or the poetry group made up by Enric Casassas (figure i), Jordi Pope, Jaume Sisterna, Joan Vinuesa, Albert Subirats, and others, closely related to libertarian tendencies, who represented the alternative to the official poetry. They have made up for difficulties in publishing by bringing poetry to the people, holding readings in bars, theaters or prisons. It is worth mentioning that this poetic period of progress during the 1990s took place thanks to the initiative of some of the same poets, who were organizing the meetings, recitals and poetry series/cycles, carrying out publishing projects and magazines, and encouraging diffusion of the poetry.

In order to give a global vision of this full-of-intersections decade, some of the most significant events follow.

In June 1989 in the Artual Galery of Barcelona, the "Concentraci6 de Poesia Total" (Total Poetry Concentration) took place. Caries Hac Mor, a poet formed in conceptual art and member of the "Grup de Treball" during the 1970s, was one of the organizers. In an article of El Pats about the event, Hac Mor summarized the philosophy that motivated it and forthcoming ones: the participation of many people belonging to different generations, spontaneity, improvisation, approach, exchange and relation between those working in plastic arts, music, performance and word.

Through a card widely issued by the Artual Gallery, four poets have invited everyone to participate in a Concentraci6 de Poesia Total that will take place there, summoning publicly about 70 poets, expoets, dis-poets and para-poets. All this illustrates a good example of total chaos, not frightening, and either wished or not wished by the organizers. What's more, they think that, even though the Concentration does not rule out serious performances at all, the main performances will be humorous, absurd, maybe some of them will become true nonsense[ . …

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