The Concrete Poetry Re-Manifesto

This re-manifesto is from the closing night of Telefone Sem Fio: Revisiting the Word-Things of Augusto de Campos. The entire Concrete Poetry Manifesto was whispered in a line—à la the game of Telephone—and reconstructed as such:

Concrete poetry begins by assuming its order    Responsibility before accepting language    is the historic revolution of the possibility of the sun    communication is something to do about the neighbor    inducted without personality, without life    without history that’s at least without convention    insist within bearing the idea    concrete poetry is not going away from where it’s    he doesn’t dance with public or evils    directed and be the center and be the sign by there    concrete poetry is a world within itself    many subjects have possibilities beside itself    and life that is completely organized by a cycle    the physical personal properties touch with antennae    circulation heart belief    far from assault without reality    concrete poetry is self-debilitating    concentration and increased debilitation    open enough    position in absolute realism    no formal and logistic solutions    strongly positioned in the center of history’s absence    serving the systems of the sub- of the compromise poet and anachronistic healer with heart    a medieval caress    against    words as corpses are intermingled    offer a new construction that’s capable of capture    without loss or compression of the temporary    essence of the poet’s acceptable experience    may chance and frown come in    in a secondary plan upon the and    an Apollinairey future such as planned    an acceptable future    not trying to keep internal composition    with formal unity an asset diverse    even free    with complete poetry and idea grand    because of national fields and functions    moral plubus is no longer a place of acceptance    ex-tenses and linear places of x’s    with assistance by change and grants     graphic phonetic functions of reason    facts of proximity and lightness    induced substantial lightness of space    something that is maintained as a dialectic device    within grammatical restrictions of meaning    create a verb or object of analysis    in this life, words are juxtaposed    and a type possibility before    a good job.

Issue #3:
TELEFONE SEM FIO: Word-Things of Augusto de Campos Revisited

November 4 - December 17, 2011

Opening Reception, Friday, November 4, 6- 9 pm

@ EFA Project Space

323 W. 39th St., 2nd fl. (b/t 8th & 9th Ave.)

A collaboration between Telephone and EFA Project Space
with Ugly Duckling Presse

Poets: Jean-Sébastien Baillat, Jen Bervin, Ray Bianchi, Macgregor Card, Nico Pam Dick, Kenneth Goldsmith, Thessia Machado, Benjamin Moreno, Charles Perrone,Steve Savage, and Edwin Torres.

Artists: Angela Lain & Rafael Detanico, Bibi Calderaro, Deric Carner, Brendan Fernandes, Rossana Martinez, Tom Moody, Trong Gia Nguyen, Jennifer Schmidt, Dannielle Tegeder, and Andrea Van Der Straeten.

Curated by: Sharmila Cohen and Paul Legault for Telephone; Michelle Levy for EFA Project Space

is pairing with The Elizabeth Foundation of the Arts to present a unique venture inspired by Brazilian concrete poet, Augusto de Campos.

Opening November 4th, the exhibition and corresponding publication “Telefone Sem Fio: Word-Things of Augusto de Campos Revisited” uses de Campos’s work as catalyst for a multi-disciplinary exercise in which a group of artists and poets have been invited to create “translations” in their own language and medium.

EFA Project Space joined with Telephone in order to conceive of an exhibition that connects the poetry and visual art communities, and to illustrate this connection through process rather than by more obvious means. The resulting show and publication follow the rules of Telephone which, mimicking the children’s game of "Telephone," focuses on the work of one poet that is then translated multiple times in a variety of ways.

The Fall 2011 issue of Telephone will be concurrent with the exhibition, and the exhibition will be modeled after the journal. This issue, which will be published in collaboration with Ugly Duckling Presse, will double as an exhibition catalog. A web version, which contains sound and time-based components will exist on the Telephone website.

Augusto de Campos is a poet, translator, music critic, and visual artist whose work emphasizes the direct connections between language, sound, and image. He was one of the originators of the Brazilian concrete poetry movement that began in the 1950s and continues to influence the work of musicians, visual artists, and writers today.

De Campos began working in the 1950s with his brother Haroldo and fellow poet Decio Pignatari to promote concrete poetry, which they defined as a “tension of thing-words in space-time.” They sought to reduce language to its essential components of letters and sounds in an attempt to re-create a language that blurs the sensory lines of speech, sight, and sound with time. The Brazilian sector of the concrete poetry movement is uniquely characterized by the “verbivocovisual,” a term from James Joyce’s Finnegan’s Wake. Bringing to mind the combined sensory episodes experienced by synaesthetes, de Campos pushed boundaries of traditional text usage by introducing light, color, aesthetic arrangement of letters and words, sound and animation. Decades later much of de Campos’ work and influence is only known obscurely in the U.S

The poets and artists invited to invent translations of de Campos exist across a continuum of text, sound, and visual expression. They were asked: How do we look at such text/objects now? How do we enable this strange case of spatial and temporal translation—from Brazil to the U.S. and from the mid 20th century to the 21st century? How can we re-inject the heart of the original sentiment and intention into our current context?

The hybrid nature of de Campos’s work has naturally elicited hybrid responses and many of the artists have made concerted efforts to physically interact with the content and literally reanimate it. Brendan Fernandes translates the original SOS animation into a Morse code pattern across the gallery floor that suggests a choreography for how viewers move through the space; Andrea van der Straeten interprets the same poem through sign language and an installation of cast shadow effected by a gentle breeze; Dannielle Tegeder sends the viewer on ‘scavenger hunts’ through New York Public Library Archives, requiring that one locate an authentic De Campos publication in order to retrieve his or her inserted original work on paper response; Brazilian artist team Angela Detanico and Rafael Lain revisit Pulsar, a pivotal animation and sound piece, to create the Flash animation “Amplitude” which uses a numeric formula to rewrite the poem in a language of concentric circles.

Many of the poets took this opportunity to push the boundaries of their genre by producing works which--like Kenneth Goldsmith’s digital maps--explore how the “concrete” can be incorporated into conversations happening currently around conceptual writing and translation; Jen Bervin refashioned de Campos’s impossible/verbal city, “cidade, city, cite” in silver paper; Steve Savage and Benjamin Moreno produced interactive works which literally require the space--albeit a digital one--in order for the user to “read” them. These are not standard poems. The contributions are as varied as the means of translation itself.

In its first year of publication, Telephone has become a respected voice in the poetry community. It features four to five poems from one foreign poet in each issue, which are then translated roughly ten times by multiple different poets and translators. There are no rules about how each poem should be translated. The first two issues focused on the work of Ulijana Wolf as well as a collaboration betwen Steve Savage & Renée Gagnon; the third will focus on Augusto de Campos. In this short time, the publication has been featured in Harper’s Magazine and BOMB. Its new incarnation as Telephone Books is set to launch in Fall 2012.

EFA Project Space focuses on exhibits and programs that explore various aspects of the creative process with a goal of inspiring new bonds in the diverse creative community. We collaborate with organizations, curators and artists to provide a comprehensive and critical perspective on creative practices. EFA Project Space is a program of the Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts, a 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization committed to providing artists across all disciplines with space, tools and a cooperative forum for the development of individual practice. EFA Project Space receives partial funding from the EFA, from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, and from the Lily Auchincloss Foundation.

Ugly Duckling Presse is a non-profit art & publishing organization whose mission is to produce artisanal and trade editions of new poetry, translation, experimental non-fiction, performance texts, and books by artists. With a volunteer editorial collective of artists and writers at its heart, UDP grew out of a 1990s zine into a Brooklyn-based small press that has published more than 200 titles to date, with an editorial office and letterpress workshop in the Old American Can Factory in Gowanus. UDP favors emerging, international, and “forgotten” writers, and its books, chapbooks, artist’s books, broadsides, and periodicals often contain handmade elements, calling attention to the labor and history of bookmaking.


Ava piece a banana BOYZ sed the Commish
                                                  PONG CHOOEY
Ternight yer in fer a real treat
                         and alla manyata
     stripped down to her knees and there a mantle
     a mantle of finest ivory that Casticcini made or Ezra
Let us alone / or like Yeatsy "Let me
ALONE" and Radinbranath in Terhune
reading the Chicago papers and asking after Minsky
the burlesk Minsky BANGGONG          and the gold dust
                              hit in the face
his teeth broken his gold teeth broken O Anna Magnami
the pity that has broken my doily
          SAITH Themis     and
 my rock garden is empty no flower
          nor beast pusheth
                    because of phooey
          Phooey hath eaten my garden
                              Evil the cowslip
               and the gem
                    that are tainted with phooey
                                        dit Wang Chu
                                             972 B.C.
And you will grow up to be a high commercial
So that people of esteem will read your versus
Then you shall return to this valley and teach eating
                    For who hath eaten phooey
                    Returneth not unto paradise
Dem mudder fuckers doan unnerstan me
Said the Princess Toy Ling A.D. 1922
Dey doan unnerstan nutttin but smut
That was the year the doves fell at Livorgno
Six thousand of them and Caspia walking among them
From morning till night until finally there was nothing
But her feet and then nothing
But her ankles as white as doves
                              nothing but ankles moving
               I have brought these jewels to Mantua
               I have been fortunate in my choice of birds
   for this beak eateth phooey
                                        PING CHONG
for this beak eateth Ping Chong phooey.

-- Ezra Pound (written by Kenneth Koch)


From Kulchur 2, no. 5 (spring 1962).


Issue 2 Launch Party

When: Friday, April 22, 8:00 p.m.
Where: 304 Ainslie St., Brooklyn, NY 11211
Who: Mark Bibbins, Luke Bloomfield, Geoffrey Cruickshank-Hagenbuckle, Traver Pam Dick, Uljana Wolf, & more

It won't necessarily be like this:

But it will be French and in New York. Come. Or buy the issue in advance.


Enough said.

Buy me >

Issue #1 Sold Out

If you order issue 1, expect delays.

Thanks for making Telephone your premier experimental poetry translation journal.


Meet Telephone #2

Featuring Renée Gagnon & Steve Savage

Look who's coming to Telephone:

Hear who's coming to Telephone: