MinXus Mail Bag: Two Minimalist Texts by Thomas Brown (Baltimore, Maryland, USA)

Thom - 4.22.2015 - 1

Mail art by Thomas Brown (Baltimore, Maryland, USA)

Thomas Brown sometimes aka Bhomas Trown tends to produce language-centered work involving puns, wordplay and jokes. Recently, his mail art has taken a minimalist turn; and we are thrilled to be able to share two examples. The work above, in fact, could easily qualify as minimalist concrete poetry.

The poem’s three words involve the possible combinations, re-combinations and repetitions of four letters, emphasizing the materiality of language and its mathematical nature. The interrogation of a single word to reveal other words and ideas is present, an approach often used in minimalist concrete poetry. Absence is a strong element in the piece; and other words, phrases, sentences (there is a period) are implied.

The poem uses as its foundation – “This is it.” – a commonplace, over-used and sometimes near meaningless expression. The wide-open pronouns that have the potential to be linked with innumerable nouns – sometimes with absurd results – add a strong element of the indeterminate. The poem then skillfully uses that surface as a gateway into a deeper exploration of language through associations, numerical combinations and wordplay.

What we admire most about this work is its adherence to minimalist containment. The various combinations of letters and words could be extended, making the piece longer, revealing more possibilities. But Thomas Brown allows (and trusts) his readers to fill in the gaps and thus participate in the construction of meaning. Here is the reverse side:

Thom - 4.22.2015 - 2

Here is another piece recently received from Thomas Brown:

Thom - 4.22.2015 - 3

While very different from the first piece, a similar principle of repetition is used.

Thom - 4.22.2015 - 4

Many thanks to Thomas Brown!

And some minimalist poetry by Robert Creeley as a point of comparison:

Thom - 4.22.2015 - 5


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