Beautiful Books: OO: Typewriter Poems
Dani Spinosa's newest collection of visual poetry OO: Typewriter Poems (Invisible Publishing) challenges the male-dominated legacy of avant-garde visual poetics. A collision of analog and digital traditions, OO: Typewriter Poems pays homage to the history of visual poetry while critiquing the progressivist and masculinist ideals that continue to inform the genre. Below, Dani tells us about the process of creating the poems in her collection and what her teenage notebooks had to do with it.
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OO: Typewriter Poems marks a moment of contact, where my love of the visual avant-garde’s preoccupation with the typewriter collides with the silly femme lyric poetry of my teenage notebooks. And rather than theorizing or critiquing what happens in that collision, part of what I wanted to do when putting this collection together was to aestheticize and make beautiful the disjuncture. That collision pretty clearly demonstrated in the poem “Cia Rinne,” where that lyric sensibility I could never quite shake is most visible and most embodiment; as the poem works through the discomfort of various plastic additions to my body (an IV catheter from when I needed intravenous antibiotics to treat a kidney infection, my IUD), the lyric writing itself doubles-over, gets uncomfortable, too. Pink and black intermingle, visual and meaning-making language elements get layered until you cannot extricate one part from the other. The poem is (has to be) quite messy, and to show the beauty of that mess.
Even more messy is the poem “Judith Copithorne,” which explodes the mess across the page to embrace it, get covered in it. This time, I’ve inserted my own juvenile handwriting as a gesture to where Copithorne’s work would go.
Unlike several other poems in this collection, I barely altered this poem digitally at all, wanting to embrace the mess that results from a medium that doesn’t have an Undo key. This poem carries on the embodiment poetics in “Cia Rinne,” but rather than working through a discomfort, here again I embrace the mess of it all:
Made poorly, perhaps, but all the more beautiful for that, for the beautiful and messy things that erupt when we force ourselves together, in love and in community.
Not all the poems in OO are quite so messy. A poem like “Johanna Drucker,” for example, is fairly clean and organized; it is chaos disguising itself as organization. The poem overall is tongue-in-cheek making fun of the referential poetics, but it replaces the allusions and references that might be there with only the quotation marks, reminding the reader that the process of citation is often more important than what’s being cited.
To get to the core of the issue, the poem is comparatively clean and deceptively organized. It remains, I hope, irreverent and referential, like Drucker’s blurb for the book. And, hopefully, beautiful for that, too.
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Thanks to Julie Wilson at Invisible Publishing for sharing with us these rad typewriter poems from Dani Spinosa's OO: Typewriter Poems, and to Dani for this look at her process and inspirations.
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