Visual poetry as the name suggests is visually appealing, probably the first thing one would notice before the text. That makes poetry all the more exciting, I guess. There is of course double interest in the written words and the intentional form that is mostly based on the theme. It could be a recognizable pattern or a free form that could range from poems exploring handwriting, scribbling and scrawling, abstraction and illustration, mathematical equations, asemic and pansemic writing with invented scripts, xerographic pieces, material process, colour and collage, crossings out, forgotten notes, found text, interaction between paper and pen-ink, geometric poems, inarticulate poems and minimalism and the list may go on. In short, it is something like raw poems or Poem Brut. It’s more experimental in nature and your imagination can run wild creating all sorts of patterns/forms with concrete words using different typography as well. There’s a play of intermedia as well in the current times with digital formats being available and made easy. You can see earliest examples in the Metaphysical poet, George Herbert’s “Easter Wings” and the radical experiments of e e Cummings poems like “In Just” etc. The movement is said to have drawn inspiration from Dada and Surrealism. One can see examples in the works of Joan Miro’s “Le corps de ma brune” (1925) and Piet Mondrian's incorporation of Michel Seuphor's text in “Textuel” (1928).
My inclination here is more towards Asemic writing as of now. As mentioned it’s more of an invented script, an impression or shadow of the conventional writing personal to the poet but having an effect on the reader all the same. It’s a kind of pseudo or mock writing like what the children do even before they begin to write actual words. We see them do it all the time, it’s natural. Some even have pictograms and ideograms in it and the meaning isn’t rigid. It’s open to interpretation and each interpretation can be the perfect one. The most important aspect is that it is not bound to any language and the knowledge of a particular language is not essential to understanding the writing. It’s beyond all those barriers and yet able to relate to words and meaning. It bridges the void where words fail. Simply put, it is something you can’t read. There are calligraphers from circa 800 CE like Zhang Xu and Huaisu who have practiced illegible writing; it is not something that sprung up in the modern times though the variations and mediums have just widened beyond belief.
Andrew Topel’s Letters Patterns Structures
Mary Ellen Solt’s Forsythia
Abstract calligraphy, Concrete Poetry, controlled scribble, doodles, earliest writing, experimental calligraphy, ideograms, illegible writing, Inism, jazz writing, Kandinsky shamanism, Ungno Lee letter abstracts, Mail Art, André Masson automatic drawings, Henri Michaux alphabets narrations, mock letters, pseudo writing, scrittura asemantica, Austin Osman Spare sigils, Taoist magic diagrams, Cy Twombly’s works, Vinča script, Made Wianta calligraphy period, Zhang Xu wild cursive, Luigi Serafini's Codex Seraphinianus and several more come under asemic writing.
Man Ray, Kandinsky, Henry Michaux, Max Ernst have all experimented asemic writing at some point of their creative career.
Michael Jacobson’s blog TheNew-Post Literate is an impressive treasure-trove of Asemic writing. I read about him at Asymptotejournal. Some Asemic writers/poets include Tim Gaze, Geof Huth, Erik Belgium, Michael Jacobson and many more. I am just starting out and new to this scenario and have a lot to learn about the people and the works here. So please excuse me if there are important omissions but then do let me know so that I can include it as well.
Michael Jacobson - Page 1 from The Giant's Fence
Now that you have a general idea and a sense of what this is all about, let me show you a couple of works that I did. I can not share my favourite ones here though as I have submitted it elsewhere. These are the most recent ones from my booklet project (the second one). Glimpses from the first are on my Instagram. I took these pictures while the sun was setting and I loved the shadow it created through the glass door. What do you think?
These two are from my first booklet:
I did a lot of readings from different sites like Asymptote Journal, Michael Jacobson, Asemic writing, Wikipedia, Geof Huth blog, Andrew Topel blog, Richard Kostelanetz, 3am Magazine, Poetry Foundation, Litro, Brittanica, Power Poetry, Hyperallergic, Script and a couple more random articles before I wrote my piece.
So, have you heard of Asemic writing/poems before? What do you think of it? Do let me know your views, thoughts and ideas.