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Letter from the Poetry Editor


I keep hearing artists say they are writing. What can they do with what they have written? Leave it in the notebook, like a sketch—a trace of a private activity done in the studio. Get it printed in a literary zine and become a hybrid artist/writer. Attach it to the brochure of a gallery exhibition and let it function, like a press release, for the show’s promotional apparatus—an ephemeral accessory to a saleable thing. Make an artist’s book. By joining work with words and work with materials in a tangible object, the artist’s book leads an audience to see the two as equal members in an artist’s output. But what else is there?

The question looks familiar from Rhizome’s perspective. It doubles the one facing artists who work online. With internet art, as with writing, choices about display are wrapped in choices about distribution. At one point or another, many artists wonder whether what they do online is an end in itself or a public sketchbook, a way to work through ideas that will later be embodied in a work to be shown in a gallery. Furthermore, it’s harder to make work online than on a canvas without touching problems of language. The internet may be a medium of visual culture, but the keyword is what finds the image, the tag brings you back to it, chat spreads it. There is plenty of popular-science speculation on how these new everyday forms of language use are “changing our minds.” Until ways are found to measure these changes, art and poetry can tell us more about them than prose.

Today marks the beginning of a project to regularly feature artists’ texts, poetry, and experimental writing on Rhizome’s blog. Posts in the series will be gathered under the editorial tag “wordworks.” They will appear twice monthly, starting today with selections from Erik Stinson. Submissions are welcome.

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Ilhan77 Jan. 14 2012 09:25Reply

Hi Guys,

You have to give this Sexy Beast a try especially if your goal is to look good for the summer :)realtr.org I decided to put a little bit more pressure on you, because that’s exactly what you need. The summer is comming!

Brian Droitcour Jan. 24 2012 11:27Reply

Hi, I just wanted to clarify a few things for people who are interested in submitting.

1) Several people have asked me about submitting videos of readings, or video works where words appear as images. The Wordworks series is mainly about writing, rather than performance, video, or other mediums. Any submission should have a core of text that people don't have to press "play" to read. I welcome the inclusion of diverse media objects in submissions as complements to text, but not as replacements of it.

2) Submissions should be able to fit in a Rhizome blog post, without requiring readers to go to another site to read it. I'm aware of the strong traditions of electronic literature, hypertext, interactive fiction, etc., where writers make use of the entire browser window, from the background color to the forward and back buttons. I read and enjoy works like that, but for Wordworks I'm looking for writing that does not exceed the format of the post. This is just an arbitrary decision that I have made in order to maintain continuity throughout the series.

Thanks for reading and responding!

Brian Droitcour Jan. 24 2012 11:44Reply

ALSo Wordworks posts will appear twice a month, on the second and fourth Tuesdays.

karlotti Jan. 24 2012 12:52Reply

Siempre camino entre los escombros de la luz
como un funambulo afilo el aire que me toca
Despues descanso con la pirueta mortal entre las manos
y escucho las voces del amor que me precede.

La distancia purifica el sonido de las cosas
y hace deseable el tacto de tu mirada

Es de noche, y la noche siempre nos deja en paz,
se zumba como un gato sobre el colo del cansancio
y presta su ronroneo al insomnio de los que jamas regresan

I always walk through the rubble of the light
as a funambulatory sharpen the air that touches me
After the spin relaxation with deadly hands
and hear the voices of the love that precedes me.

The distance purifies the sound of things
and makes it desirable to touch your eyes

It is night, night and always leaves us in peace,
it buzzes like a cat on the coloring of fatigue
and lends his purr to insomnia of which never return