Augusto de Campos: Word-Things in Time-Space


So far the journal Telephone (like the children’s game in which a phrase changes as it is whispered from ear to ear) has released two issues of poetry translations. Each issue features a handful of poems by one foreign poet and then ten translations of those poems by different poets and translators. In addition to introducing us to poets we may not have otherwise read (the first issue featured the German poet Uljana Wolf) the journal’s innovative format provides a playful and provocative examination of language. The experience is something like looking at a text through a kaleidoscope, its meanings and diction shifting with each permutation.

For the magazine’s third issue, the people at Telephone have teamed up with The Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts and Brooklyn’s own Ugly Duckling Presse to create a multi-disciplinary event inspired by the work of the Brazilian concrete poet Augusto de Campos. Beginning in the 1950s, de Campos defined his work as “verbivocovisual expression,” incorporating geometric and graphic elements (and more recently, sound and animation) into his poetic process. Think ee cummings but with color, sound, and movement. Fun fact: de Campos was cummings’ Brazilian translator.

Responding to de Campos’ diverse multi-sensory texts, the exhibition and corresponding publication “Telefone Sem Fio: Word-Things of Augusto de Campos Revisited” brings together an equally diverse group of artists and poets whose “translations” range in form from Morse Code patterns to Flash animation to scavenger hunts. These works will be on display at the EFA Project Space from November 4 to December 17. Issue 3 of Telephone, printed by Ugly Duckling, will double as an exhibition catalogue.

Bridging the gap between the written word and the visual arts, this is a must-see/read/hear event for those folks interested in conceptual/unconventional poetry.

— David Feinstein


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