Professor: Kristin Prevallet
Exercise: Logo Poetry
This exercise is inspired by the work of the collective "Pussy Galore" and by the work of Tony Zajkowski, particularily his "Lotion Logos." It's main muse is a cartoon by Ruben Bolling called "Crazy Morty."
Corporate logos prevail. Walking down the street, reading a magazine, buying shampoo, food, cars...it's hard to avoid seeing them, and even harder to avoid allowing them to seep into your subconscious. In this exercise, I wanted students to study the form of logos, and to appreciate their simple yet effective mode of communicating a message. But I also wanted to see them as usable forms that, when extracted from their corporate context, could be used to frame anything...even a poem. The exercises helped introductory graphic arts students to think about page composition, and to think about how words and images work together on a page. Writing the poem was an excellent release into the crazy logic of language.
The exercise begins by constructing a poem using a "word wheel" and another poem. In this case, I use Will Alexander's work because there are few poets writing today whose sense of language allows readers to be truly free in their interpretation of meaning. Alexander's work really helps to encourage students to "play" with words.
1. Construct a word wheel. Draw a huge circle on the board. Ask students to
shout out words, giving them particular categories to respond to. Encourage
students to think of crazy, zany, out-there words. A good way to do this is
to use a book, such as a novel being used in class, and ask students to flip
around the pages until they come across words that fit the various categories.
Possible categories include:
state of mind
a word you don't know
a word you like
time of day
parts of speech: noun, verb, adjective
2. Students create a poem using ONLY the words on the wheel, and ONLY 2-3 words per line. (This is a good way for students to appreciate the condensation of poetry.)
3. Read Will Alexander's poem "Optic Wraith" and discuss the many possible meanings for each line. Discuss surrealism as mode of using language to uncover subconsious, nether regions of expression, dream, intense imagery based on juxtaposition.
4. Students write a poem using one line from Will Alexander, and at least three lines from their word-wheel poem.
5. Browse magazines for corporate logos, and cut them out. I put a bunch of them in a bag, and asked students to pick out three, then to pick their favorite.
6. Re-draw the logo and design a page in which the poem becomes a part of the logo, or the logo becomes a part of the poem.
The following examples are from high school students participating in Cooper Union's Saturday Outreach Program, Fall 2002.