The official weblog of the little-poetry-press-that-could, Plan B Press. Specializing in chapbooks, we have published of over 40 books from authors both local and international.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

recent trip to national gallery

So, we live close to Washington DC and for the first time since the birth of our son, William, we ventured into the city during business hours to see some art at the National Gallery. Katy wanted to see the Afghanistan exhibition and I wanted to see the Max Ernst books and new acquisitions. Among the new acquisitions was a collage piece made by Marius De Zayas and Agnes Meyers called 'Mental Reaction" created in 1915. It is the earliest example of American concrete or visual poetry known to exist, and it was the first time I knew of its existence.

I will have to go back and read the text, perhaps even write down the lines. (it's hard to do with two little tikes under foot). I wasn't impressed with the Ernst stuff because I have a book of his visual work and the space they placed his work in was a forgotten walkway between bigger rooms, unimpressive.

I am quite interested in visual / concrete poetry. from Mallarme to Norman H. Pritchard to today's quite visual artists. Plan B Press has ventured into more visual work before, and will be plunging into it more in the future. I don't for a second, however, want to suppose that we are doing something brand new. We believe in the past. By that I mean, we believe and understand that something came before us - that we might be reclaiming an idea but that many ideas have already been conceived and attempted. But when the general public "doesn't get it", ideas dry up like morning dew.

There's always that dilemma: trying something new and being understood at the time one is making the initial effort. Take, for example, the collage I am mentioning here. Its existence was not known until it came up for auction in 2007. So, for the better part 90 years it was not exhibited, written about, or viewed. It existed on a page from '291', the magazine associated with Alfred Stieglitz's gallery in New York.

Now that it is OUT THERE perhaps it will be seen for the exceptional creation that it was.

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