VOU: Visual Poetry Tokio 1958-1978, ed Taylor Mignon (Isobar Press)

Tears in the Fence

This intriguing anthology features the work of nine visual poets active in Japan in the 1960s and 1970s, artists whose work was largely ignored by the mainstream and which, as a consequence, has been little documented.

The VOU Club, from which the anthology takes its name, was founded by Kitasono Katue in 1935. His pioneering work in abstract and visual poetry influenced the younger generation of poets featured in the anthology. Kitasono maintained links with a wide range of writers, corresponding with Ezra Pound, James Laughlin, Kenneth Rexroth, and the Brazilian concrete poet Haroldo de Campos. He was also involved in Surrealism.

The poems in the anthology tend to the purely abstract, making little or no use of words and letters, even as graphic elements. Where text is used the artists generally shun Japanese characters, perhaps in reaction to a tendency of Western poets to see Japanese ideograms as exotic…

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