MinXus Mail Bag: Object Poem by Richard Canard (Carbondale, Illinois, USA)


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Mail art by Richard Canard (Carbondale, Illinois, USA)

Richard Canard is an encyclopedia of avant forms and tropes that have traveled from numerous sources into the mail art network. He frequently puts theory into practice, and we are always interested in the results. For instance, we like to see how Richard does minimalism, or how Richard does vispo, or how Richard does erasure, etc. Thus we are very pleased to have received this compelling and aesthetically pleasing object poem from our faithful correspondent in Carbondale, Illusion. Richard Canard is no stranger to the form. Some of his contributions to the genre are even notorious. He sent a flattened aluminum can with tire tread indentations to vispo guru Goef Huth. Richard proclaimed it an asemic object poem.

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In traditional poetry, an object poem is verse written about an object. Ekphrasis – a poem about a painting for instance – is a kind of object poetry. To the left of things, however, the object poem idea has become literal: The poem is a physical object. So we are adopting Dick Higgins’ view of object poetry. Furthermore, we contend that an effective object poem is not merely language inscribed upon an object; replacing paper with stone does not necessarily make adequate use of the possibilities of the form. Indeed, language need not even be present if the object conveys the “poetic,” however one might define that.

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In a case where language is present in the object poem, the object must inherently contribute to the meaning of the poem and, thus, become part of its form. Thus we find a materialist view at work similar to ideas underlying concrete poetry. Richard Canard’s “MARASHINO” fulfills our criteria perfectly. The red circular tag, string and hole work with the minimalist text to create the poem. If any of these elements were removed, the poem would fall into total incoherence; disruption of representation is clearly not Richard Canard’s intention. Disruption of poetic tradition might be.

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Thanks, as ever, to Richard Canard!


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