Professor: Kristin Prevallet
Exercise: Tom Phillips / Textual Painting
This workshop uses Tom Phillips's textual painting project, A Humument, to challenge the spacial forms of poetry and provoke discussion about the use of words as literal materials. Students were asked to bring in a book that could be "ab(used)" for this exercise.
1. Pass out a selection of poems that defy the poem's expectation to conform to a left margin. Here are some examples available on the internet:
Susan Howe, from "Thorow"
Bruce Andrews, "Mars 6" from Lip Service
Larry Eigner, "A Selection of Poems from 'the'"
2. Students read these poems outloud, and in groups, figure out how to perform them.
3. Discuss why they don't conform to expectations of "sense" and "meaning."
4. With tracing paper, trace around the word-clusters to reveal the form of the poem. For example:
5. Take the tracing paper, and apply it to a conventional block of text (i.e a newspaper article, a page from a novel). Write down only the words that are revealed through the tracing paper, even if they are cut off.
6. From these words, find a poem that makes "sense" to you.
7. Look at examples of Tom Phillips' A Humument. Create a design for your page, "around" the space of your poem, following his example.
8. As a written response following the exercise I gave the following homework prompt:
In his book Thought's Measure, Charles Bernstein writes that the desire to make language “opaque” is so that “writing may be an experience in which the forms and objects of the world may seem to be coming into being.” Given your own work on this project, what do you think he means? How does Bernstein's idea apply to the exercise you have just completed?
Found Word Poem by Peter Ragonetti 3/15/03
"I like George W. Bush / I fear it" by Ray Shappell
"Bible Studies" by Danielle Stigu