Someone asked me "What is this sound poetry stuff?"

. . . so, as this blog is automated with facebook, I've heard some what the heck? sort of tones in messages sent by folks who know me but don't know much poetry and certainly not much *sound poetry* or visual poetry or whatever. Anyway, here is the opening paragraph of a brief and well done survey of sound poetry I found at UbuWeb (link at the bottom takes you there, and that site UbuWeb is in all ways awesome, so browse - the links buried just in this little section are also interesting) [for the poetry folks, tune in tomorrow for something else].

Sound Poetry - A Survey
Steve McCaffery
From Sound Poetry: A Catalogue, edited by Steve McCaffery and bpNichol, Underwich Editions, Toronto, 1978

The 1950s saw the development of what might be termed a third phase in sound poetry. Prior to this time, in a period roughly stretching from 1875 to 1928, sound poetry's second phase had manifested itself in several diverse and revolutionary investigations into language's non-semantic, acoustic properties. In the work of the Russian FuturistsKhlebnikov and Kruchenykh, the intermedia activities of Kandinsky the bruitist poems of the Dadaists (Ball, Schwitters, Arp, HausmannTzara) and the 'paroles in liberta' of the Italian Futurist Marinetti, the phonernatic aspect of language became finally isolated and explored for its own sake. Prior to this there had been isolated pioneering attempts by several writers including Christian Morgenstern (ca. 1875), Lewis Carroll ('Jabberwocky'), August Stramm (ca. 1912), Petrus Borel (ca. 1820), Moliere, the Silesian mystic Quirinus Khulman (1 7th century), Rabelais and Aristophanes. The second phase is convincing proof of the continuous presence of a sound poetry throughout the history of western literature. The first phase, perhaps better-termed, the first area of sound poetry, is the vast, intractible area of archaic and primitive poetries, the many instances of chant structures and incantation, of nonsense syllabic mouthings and deliberate lexical distortions still alive among North American, African, Asian and Oceanic peoples. We should also bear in mind the strong and persistent folkloric and ludic strata that manifests in the world's many language games, in the nonsense syllabery of nursery rhymes, mnemonic counting aids, whisper games and skipping chants, mouth music and folk-song refrain, which foregrounds us as an important compositional element in work as chronologically separate as Kruchenykh's zaum poems (ca. 1910) and Bengt af Klintburg's use of cusha-calls and incantations (ca. 1965). Consequently, the very attempt to write a history of sound poetry is a doomed activity from the very outset. For one thing, there is no 'movement' per se, but rather a complex, often oppositive and frequently antithetical interconnectedness of concerns - attempts to recover lost traditions mix with attempts to effect a radical break with all continuities. What is referred to by 'sound poetry' is a rich, varied, inconsistent phonic geneology against which we can foreground the specific developments of the last two decades.

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