Crg Hill

Crg Hill until recently edited SCORE, one of only two journals dedicated exclusively to concrete/visual poetry. In the last three decades his work has appeared in over 100 journals and anthologies, including several available on-line. His creative and critical works in progress can be found at Crg Hill's poetry score. During the anemic Carter administration, Crag Hill kicked the "i" out of his first name. Continuing to be underwhelmed by his elected leaders, he threatens to kick out the last vowel, too soft, too soft, he says. Something in the Scotch-Irish in him thinks he'll be well-represented by the guttural "Crg."

What is (or has been) your favorite editing project and why?

My current editing project is my most ambitious. Co-edited with Nico Vassilakis, The Lastvispo Anthology is an international compilation of visual poetry produced over the 1998-2008 time span, a decade in which Nico and I observed an acceleration of visual poetry as high-charged as the tsunami wave of visual poetry created in the 1980s if not more so, continuing the push into the concrete, reveling in the semiotics of the alphabet, the signifying contours of letters, words, and their accompanying spaces, while also surging into–on the backs of image-making and editing software–untouched realms of poetry, images as alphabets, as essential semantic components in the poem, and as texts themselves.

In this past ten years, visual poetry has exploded on two dimensions: for poets (new digital tools) and for readers (thousands and thousands and thousands of visual poems an instantaneous internet click away). This body of work demands a full presentation; the timing is primed for a collective statement, for a big, brimming, budding book of recent visual poetry. Mainstream magazine Poetry for the first time opened its pages to a sampling of visual poems chosen by Geof Huth (even more work is available on-line), and several on-line and print journals, The Drunken Boat, The Madhatter’s Review (on-line) and Area Sneaks (print), among others, have devoted significant space to publication and/or discussion of visual poetry.

We have been working on this project for almost two years. After conception, one of our initial tasks was to recruit contributing editors to cast a wide net, gathering poets Nico and I may not have been mindful of, to lend us multiple eyes to capture the breadth and depth of visual poetry composed during this decade. We were pleased that Reed Altemus, Cathy Mehrl Bennett, Donato Mancini, and Sheila Murphy agreed to assist us in this project. To help us locate trends, to draw patterns, to see where current interests point toward the future of visual poetry, we asked each of them to assemble two poems from fifty poets. The first harvest of visual poems, more than four hundred, arrived in January 2009.

One of the highlights of my editing career–I’ve been editing magazines, broadsides, chapbooks, and books for almost thirty years–were the evenings I have spent with Nico viewing the poems our contributing editors forwarded, discussing, debating, defining, refining our vision of the body–the bodies–of visual poetry, conceptualizing and reconceptualizing the project. We had differences–we still have differences (I lean more and more toward the image as implicit text)–but because we dialogued about these our differences were bridged, commonalities anchored. As a result of this intense editing collaboration, I will never look at any work the same way, Nico’s voice–the force of his thinking–planted in my stirrup.

The goal is to complete this project by August 2010, to launch it at The 2010 Avant-Writing Symposium at The Ohio State University in Columbus. The manuscript currently is comprised of 250 visual poems from over 130 contributors. To buttress the poems, we have solicited essays from a number of poets in response to the manuscript. We have asked these respondents to think about these questions: What do these poems say about contemporary visual poetry? In what ways does this work add to the body of visual poetry now centuries old? What is the future of visual poetry?

This will be a project I’m convinced that will SEE, that will SEETHE, into the future, answering not only the questions above but also this: What is poetry?



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