Saturday, October 23, 2010

Nico Vassilakis

When I interviewed Nico he was pretty resistant to talking poetics/process. He even sort of sheepishly apologized to me at the Avant Writing Symposium for being grouchy during our exchange. The fact is that Nico Vassilakis (not to mention Geof Huth and Crag Hill) may well be the most lucid exponent of vispo poetics we have. When Nico and Crag's massive anthology of vispo finds a publisher it is going to be a revelatory experience for many--a game-changer.

This morning I re-read Nico's protracted type (Blue Lion Books, 2009) while I was doing my 10 miles on the stationary bike at the gym. It's a fascinating volume. It juxtaposes vispo sequences with passages of text about Nico's "staring poetics."

For Nico it all begins with the letter:

"Poetry is comprised of charged units of
language. Before sound, before meaning,
before even the impulse to write - the letters
are preparing to congeal. To see it at this level
is to see the visual aspect of poetry forming."

And later:

"Talking is an acceleration of letters."

Later still:

"Words make a prison for letters."

Nico literally stares at texts until letters come unmoored. That, at root, is his poetics. And it is, as revealed through his practice, profound.

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