Friday, February 24, 2012
“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” ).