Poet and editor David Abel is the proprietor of Passages Bookshop, which has just moved into new quarters in the Towne Storage Building in Portland’s Central Eastside. At the same location, he co-curates monthly exhibitions at The Gallery with Adam Davis and Kate Schaefer of Division Leap, and offers editorial services and teaches writing through the Text Garage.
His recent books of poems include Float (Chax Press), a collection of collage texts spanning twenty-five years; Tether (Barebone books), a chapbook of poems; and Carrier (c_L Books), a hypergraphic visual sequence. He is also the author of many artist’s books, most recently While You Were In (disposable books) and dual coup (press-press-pull). With Sam Lohmann, he publishes the Airfoil chapbook series, and from 2002–12 he published twenty-four issues of the free broadside series Envelope.
Over the past decade he has devised more than thirty performance, film, theater, and intermedia projects, both solo and with a wide range of collaborators; he also organized the exhibitions Chax Press: Publishing Poetics for PNCA and Object Poems for 23 Sandy Gallery. He is a founding member of the Spare Room reading series, now in its thirteenth year, and an inaugural Research Fellow of the Center for Art + Environment of the Nevada Museum of Art. He lives in Portland, Oregon.
have written about visual poetry in modes other than verbal (Johanna Drucker is one, using font and other typographic techniques to enhance her commentary. Why re/present visual poetry theory in verbal mode at all? Doesn't that contradict the mission, communicating through the primacy of the visual? Can't visual poets construct the visual argument to say what they want to say about their medium?
It may be that we are born into a world of words (tyranny of the alphabet), haven't developed the visual vocabulary and grammar, and fall back into the predictable comfort of words?
I could not begin to name all the different poetries being produced today, even if I wanted to reduce this activity to a list of names. Because there were fewer outlets--the power of publishing, setting standards, constructing reputations, in the hands of a few--in the 1970s, 80s, and 90s it seemed doable to gain and maintain as a reader a comprehensive sense of poetry being published in the United States. With the explosion of publishing venues, the dispersal of power (the collapse of many of the traditional literary powerbrokers), a comprehensive reading seems impossible (and probably undesirable because conprehensiveness is another word for reductiveness).
Have there ever been more poets writing poetry--performing poetry--of all kinds? On the one hand, I feel helpless as a reader--I'm sure I'm missing work that would deeply engage me. On the other hand, I don't have to wait for print publications to come out to start the search/es for this kind of work. It remains to be seen what all this activity will make of poetry/make of us.