Academic journal article Visible Language

The Manifesto of Polypoetry

Academic journal article Visible Language

The Manifesto of Polypoetry

Article excerpt

Ten years after its writing, the Manifesto of Polypoetry is examined anew. The original goal of the manifesto was to theorize the performance of sound poetry. Six statements from the manifesto are examined in the context of a decade of change and development. The importance of technology is restated along with a discussion of time, editing, rhythm and poetic practitioners associated with excellence in various techniques or perspectives.

THIS ATTEMPT CONSISTS, AFTER MORE THAN A DECADE, IN RENEWING THE POINTS OF THE MANIFESTO.1 THE NEED TO THEORIZE THE PERFORMANCE OF SOUND POETRY, STILL EXISTS. NOBODY, SAVE IN A VERY FEW CASES, HAS FELT THE URGENCY OF MAKING CLEARER THE PROCEDURE OF A MATTER STILL PRACTISED. PERHAPS IT'S DIFFICULT TO FIND THE NEW PRACTITIONERS, AS NOWADAYS IT SEEMS THAT ONLY THE MOST SOPHISTICATED HYPER-TECHNOLOGY AND VIOLENCE AGAINST THE BODY ITSELF (ALSO TRANSFIGURED OR CREATED THROUGH GENETIC MANIPULATION) ARE THE UNIQUE, AUTHORIZED WAYS OF ARTISTIC RESEARCH.

THE INTENTION IS TO HELP THOSE WHO ARE EXPERIMENTING, WITH PERMANCES OF SOUND POETRY, TO A BETTER AWARENESS OF WHAT THEY ARE PRODUCING. SUCH AN IMPRESSION IS STILL VIABLE TODAY. BY AWARENESS I MEAN THE CAPABILITY OF A PROJECT ABLE TO ORGANIZE A SERIES OF INTERVENTIONS AROUND THE NUCLEUS OF THE VOICE INVOLVING OTHER MEDIA WITHOUT GOING TOWARDS PERFORMANCE ART, EXPERIMENTAL THEATER, CONCRETE MUSIC OR, WORSE, THE MERE READING OF A POEM FROM THE PAGE. IT WAS NECESSARY THEN, AND A HIGH LEVEL OF CONSCIOUSNEES IS STILL REQUIRED NOW, TO MANAGE SUCH A COMPLEX OF MULTIPLE ELEMENTS.

1 Only the development of new technologies will mark the progress of sound poetry: electronic media and computers are and will be the true protagonists.

This was an easy prophecy! During the 1950s, the invention of the recording technique and its immediate commercialization deeply influenced and accelerated the transition from phonetic poetry to sound poetry, or better said, the change from the typical lettrist approach to a more spatial, electromagnetic sound. The same can't be said after the appearance of the computer on the art scene towards the end of the 1980s. No doubt production times are neatly shortened, it's easier to work with special effects, to control sound waves. But the final product, the sound poem, has not been improved either in structure or contents.

The end-of-the-century big-computer-bang has not provoked a wave of "new" sound poetry. Those who have always used technology for the composition of the poem, still go on exploiting it, maybe in a more sophisticated way (see Larry Wendt, Charles Amirkhanian and Sten Hanson, for example). Or one might mention the extreme technological coherence of a Henri Chopin who, at least for forty years, has been proposing a rarefied style, not so far from a phonetic "rumorismo." Other poets who first denied their involvement with hyper-tech recording studios, now are not afraid of it and click the mouse to select their recorded voice finally visualized on the screen.

Still covinced that the fundamental help of technology is necessary to the cause of sound poetry, this is the winning instrument. The sound poet must be prepared in the face of rapid electronic development, but must also experiment with the new media for the progress of the sound poem itself. In other words, the sound poet must consider the poem under the auspices of the new technology. We ought to avoid that unbearable situation so typical of controlled freedom, where we seem to do whatever we want to, but we do nothing of any interest or better yet we do only what others allow us to do. That's why we appreciate those poets or investigators who have been able to set up their own software, Tibor Papp, Jacques Donguy, Fabio Doctorovich or those who can wholly dominate the program they are using, exploiting it for an original process, Mark Sutherland, Philadelpho Menezes, Takei Yoshimichi, Suzuki Takeo.

Finally, some thoughts about the Web, which is not yet ready to be exploited for the creative purpose of producing sound poetry. …

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