Friday, February 24, 2012

Sonic Meaninglessness

“Sound poetry began with the dawning of language itself,” explains Peter Finch. “Tribal chantings, group wailings, rhythmic mumblings in celebration of gods and victories. These were the pre-literate verbalisings that are actually claimed as a common source by all poetries. Through the centuries they became mantras, meditational repetitions, sonic meaninglessness: Try this—Om Amkhara om om. Or this—ababra abrakakraka abrakal abrakal abrakal abraka abra abrabcadarrab era abaracadabara. Recognise them? Of course you do. In Babylonian times spells like these were installed in the corners of houses as traps for demons. The text was written in the shape of an inward turning spiral. The demon, only ever able to read in one direction, would follow the spell in its irresistible progression and end trapped, hard in the centre. The first ever visual poetry. And one with a purpose. What is poetry for? For catching the dark things at the back of our heads and fixing them for all to see” (“Sound Poetry” [2003]).

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Taking a Word and Deriving the World From It

How a poet uses magic words:

"As the artist pounds into his symbol all the richness he can summon, as he takes a word and derives the world from it, so to the symbol the intelligent reader brings all of the past that he has been able to gather for himself." —John Unterecker, quoted in In My Dreams I Ride Wild Horses (2011)

Saturday, February 11, 2012

The Best Word is Not Always Standard English

This could be advice for choosing a magic word:

"When I'm choosing a word, I never choose the right word; I choose the best word, and the best word is not always Standard English." —Patricia McKissack

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Magic Words at the Fountain of Youth

Did we forget to mention this recent article about our search for "shapes of magic" at Ponce de León's Fountain of Youth?

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Part of the Magic is the Mystery

"What makes it magic? ... Magic can't be defined, can it? Or it loses what makes it magic. ... Part of the magic is the mystery, don't you think?"
—Megan Hart, "This Is What I Want" (2007)