Monday, February 12, 2024

Asemic Front 2 Review: "Circling the Start" by Dixie Denman Junius


Circling the Start

By Dixie Denman Junius

Tallahassee - Anhinga Press 2023

Anhinga Press Visual Poetry Series, Kristine Snodgrass, Editor

60 pages paper

9.5’ x 9’

Full color

Review by De Villo Sloan

Editor Kristine Snodgrass has launched the new Anhinga Press Visual Poetry Series with a spectacular, full-length collection by emerging artist and asemic writer, Dixie Denman Junius.

The first half of Circling the Start is a powerful series based, ironically, on a readable symbol: The Enso. Junius enters her asemic realm from Asian traditions that engage with paradox and contradiction.

In her preface, Junius writes, “Enso is the Japanese word for circle and is strongly associated with Zen, symbolizing anything from a rice cake to eternity” (xiii).

Her readers will certainly recognize the Enso as an indeterminate signifier that invites meditations upon meaning and as Shakespeare said, “signifying nothing.”

Junius continues, “My expression of the Enso is an opening to reveal the wordless poems in my mind and heart – centering me in the infinite wisdom of the moment. Thus far, I have created over 100 imperfect circles and interpretations from the Enso.”

Circling the Start presents approximately 25 beautiful color prints arranged in a skillfully sequenced series that leads her audience to insights about the nature of signs and asemics. The Enso series presents a narrative of the deterioration or deconstruction of the sign.

The series highlights a binary structure. I note many of the neo-concrete poets today chafe against the constraints of binary structures. I tend to agree, yet in the case of Circling the Start, the emphasis on the binary is justified, even beneficial. For instance, the Enso mirrors the signifier-signified structure of the sign frequently appearing in semiotics.

The second section of the book is an eye-popping, color-drenched tour-de-force showcasing Junius’s asemics. Her existing audience now has an enduring collection of her work under one cover; a new audience will be exposed for the first time to her talent.

I also want to praise Anhinga Press for including important contextual elements in the book: The introduction by Kristine Snodgrass, the preface by Dixie Denman Junius and an afterword by Karla Van Vliet.

The genres in contemporary vispo such as neo-concrete and asemic are opening fields of uncharted territory that require new ways of reading to share the extraordinary vision of these artists.

If Circling the Start is any indication, we can look forward to new books in the Anhinga Press Visual Poetry Series with excitement.

 De Villo Sloan is Director of the Winifred & De Villo Sloan, Jr. Charitable Fund

Saturday, October 28, 2023

Typed-over & Glitched: Mail Art Collabs by Irene Ronchetti (Argentina) & De Villo Sloan (USA)


Visual poetry collaboration by Irene Ronchetti (Buenos Aires, 
Argentina) & De Villo Sloan (New York, USA)

By Irene Ronchetti (Buenos Aires, Argentina) 
& De Villo Sloan (New York, USA)

By Irene Ronchetti (Buenos Aires, Argentina) 
& De Villo Sloan (New York, USA)

By Irene Ronchetti (Buenos Aires, Argentina) 
& De Villo Sloan (New York, USA)

Source text by Irene Ronchetti (Buenos Aires, Argentina) 

Tuesday, August 29, 2023

"the one that stayed underground" & other new asemic writing by Nancy Bell Scott (South Portland, Maine, USA)


"the one that stayed underground" by Nancy Bell Scott (Maine, USA)

"no one told me we were taking this route" by Nancy Bell Scott

"talking in my sleep" by Nancy Bell Scott

"just enough to breathe" by Nancy Bell Scott

"when you don't feel 100% like dancing" 
by Nancy Bell Scott

Sunday, January 29, 2023

AI-semics: Excerpts from "The Long Wars of the Pataphysicians" by Lanny Quarles (Texas, USA)

From "The Long Wars of the Pataphysicians" by Lanny Quarles 
(Dallas, Texas, USA) (2023) 

From "The Long Wars of the Pataphysicians" by Lanny Quarles 

From "The Long Wars of the Pataphysicians" by Lanny Quarles 

From "The Long Wars of the Pataphysicians" by Lanny Quarles 

From "The Long Wars of the Pataphysicians" by Lanny Quarles 

From "The Long Wars of the Pataphysicians" by Lanny Quarles 

From "The Long Wars of the Pataphysicians" by Lanny Quarles 

Tuesday, January 3, 2023

Tom Hibbard's Visual Writing Trilogy


Cover of Transcendent Topologies by Tom Hibbard (Luna Bisonte Prods 2018). 
Cover art by John M. Bennett & Jim Leftwich. Book design by C. Mehrl Bennett
 & Tom Hibbard (111 pages)

Tom Hibbard's Visual Writing Trilogy

by De Villo Sloan


Here at Asemic Front 2 we are deeply saddened by the loss of Tom Hibbard, our longtime correspondent and advisor from Wisconsin, USA. Tom has contributed to the vibrancy of contemporary vispo on a global scale. He inspired numerous themes, investigations and experiments at the AF2 blog.

The previous five years were fruitful for Tom’s writing. He published what I am viewing as a trilogy of critical/theoretical books that I want to take this opportunity to recommend as essential to this audience.

Tom Hibbard’s Transcendent Topologies: Structuralism and Visual Writing was published in 2018 by Luna Bisonte Prods (Columbus, Ohio, USA) and is the book in the trilogy that I believe best represents a unified view of Hibbard’s theories with abundant examples by visual poets.

Tom, in particular, is a persuasive advocate for Luc Fierens (Belgium). The book includes insightful analysis of work by Michael Basinski, David-Baptiste Chirot, Maria Damon and Miekal And, Karl Kempton, and Nico Vassilakis, among others. Transcendent Topologies includes an afterword by Jim Leftwich.

While Tom Hibbard had the imagination and intellectual breadth to assume a role similar to the one held by Bob Grumman in previous years, Hibbard - unlike Grumman - applies critical and literary theory rooted in Western philosophy (incubated in the universities) to the emerging genres of asemics, vispo and neo-concrete poetry.

Cover of The Language Signifier: Visual Writing and the Ecologies of Dimensionality 
by Tom Hibbard (Luna Bisonte Prods 2019). Cover art by Cecil Touchon. Book design
 by C. Mehrl Bennett & Tom Hibbard (130 pages)

In 2019, Luna Bisonte published Tom’s The Language Signifier: Visual Writing and Ecologies of Dimensionality. This collection reveals a greater range and depth of his knowledge of visual writing as well as more traditional texts. If the book lacks the thematic consistency of Transcendent Topologies, it reveals a more reactive, improvisational quality when reading image-text that many readers prefer in reviews.

The book presents in-depth analysis of visual writing, asemic writing and other postavant genres. Included is writing about Luc Fierens, Jack Kerouac, Adriana Kobor, Michael Rothenberg, Spencer Selby, Eileen Tabios, among others. Useful examples of vispo and asemics are included too.

The book is a resource for those working with vispo and asemic theory. Hibbard's impressive knowledge of critical theory enables him to navigate - ultimately to the reader's benefit - the disputed, blasted terrain of competing forces seeking to colonize new forms.

Cover of Poet on the Right Side of History: In Memoriam David-Baptiste Chirot edited by Tom Hibbard, C. Mehrl Bennett and John M. Beneett. (Luna Bisonte Prods 2022). Cover by David-Baptiste Chirot. (70 pages)

In 2022, Luna Bisonte Prods published Poet on the Right Side of History: In Memoriam David-Baptiste Chirot, edited by Tom Hibbard, C. Mehrl Bennett and John M. Bennett. This third book I am including in the visual writing trilogy results from the death of celebrated poet David-Baptiste Chirot in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 2021.

Tom visited, assisted and provided comfort for David in the final weeks of his life. Tom's altruism and deference are a testimony to the depth of his generous heart. The experience led him to be the catalyst behind Poet on the Right Side of History, a remarkable assembly of voices and a marker in vispo history.

The volume includes tributes by Miekal And, C. Mehrl Bennett, John M. Bennett, Maria Damon, Vernon Frazer, Jonathan Minton, Stephen Perkins, Matthew Stolte, and Eileen Tabios. Geof Huth’s acclaimed account of his meeting with Chirot in September 2005 is reprinted.

Of most relevance to this review is Tom’s essay in the volume entitled “Flowers for Kane Place: The Last Days and Nights of David-Baptiste Chirot.” This deeply felt essay is a departure from the theory-driven abstractions of Transcendent Topologies and The Language Signifier.

Tom writes to Chirot, “Farewell, exiled friend. No worries. You died far from home and loved ones, but you saw what strong territorialism hid from those around you: the reality of loneliness and true existence. It made your artwork so essentially alive…” I believe this aspect of Tom’s writing is essential for a full appreciation of his achievements.

Tom Hibbard has left us a body work to explore and revisit extending far beyond the three books I have gathered here. Part of the tragedy of his loss is that we will never know what work he might have done to further develop his efforts with critical theory and new poetics. Yet others will build on his contributions and his work will be continued by others. Let us hope his spirit of sincerity and kindness remains with us.