UbuWeb | UbuWeb Papers

Postition I of the International Movement (1963)
Pierre Garnier: France

If the poem has changed
It is that I have changed
It is that we all have changed
It is that the universe has changed

Men are less and less determined by their nation, their class, their mother tongue, and more and more by the function which they perform in society and the universe, by presences, textures, facts, information, impulsions, energies. They have entered space and already have adapted their movements, soon their thoughts, their inode of living to this new freedom. Poetry turns from art to action, from recitation to constellation, from phrase to structure, from song to the center of energy. For years groups or isolated authors, who most of the time ignored each other and yet were conscious of humanity called to functional and cosmic life, that is to say to metamorphosis that leads us beyond existential fear, have made researchers in the direction of a poetry that can be given the general name Spatial (which includes concepts of time, structure, energy):

concrete poetry: working with language material creating structures with it, transmitting primarily esthetic information;

phonetic poetry: based upon the phonemes, sound bodies of language and generally speaking upon all sounds emitted by the vocal organs of man, worked out on the tape recorder and tending toward the creation of spatial sound;

objective poetry: pictorial, graphic, sculptural and musical arrangement due to the collaboration of painters, sculptors, musicians and typographers;

visual poetry: the word or its elements taken as objects and centers of visual energy;

phonic poetry: the poem composed directly on magnetic tape, words and sentences being taken as objects and centers of auditory energy;

cybernetic, serial, permutational, verbophonic, poetry

Because they have the following points in common, these diverse tendencies (which by the way often appear) can be grouped into a movement (which leaves each of their promoters free):

These kinds of poetry tend to become objective, that is to say to be no longer either the vehicles of moral or philosophic content or the expression of a social ego that asks itself in vain "Who am I?", bu the liberation of an energy, the sharing of esthetic information, the objectivation of a language,' the latter being conceived of as an autonomous universe (containing other universes as it is contained in them, from whence its authenticity). All of these poets are heading toward that ideal point where the word creates itself, liberating thus a universal reality.

These attempts complement each other: national languages are becoming more and more bureaucratic having often lost their power of incantation, the remaining living elements of languages must be freed (concrete, objective, visual poetry) and structured by renewing and possibly changing the syntactic and semantic values. It is a matter of abandoning the robot languages to their sleeping existence and of finding the lightning-signs, the sun cries, the enormous richness that exists in man's vocal organs which common usage has eliminated during the course of the centuries (phonetic poetry).

Parallelly we create a frankly spatial poetry of structures, of montages, of energies, poetry d the projected more than of the projection, destined to "explore" space.

These kinds of poetry escape from the old social order and from the storehouse of available ideas which has remained unchanged for thousands of years, and in which all revolutions are engulfed and lost. For example: the Indo-European languages which are based on the same substructure subject-verb-object, in which to our day a way of life has been arrested.

These kinds of poetry are not content to explore, as did surrealism, with the help of fixed linguistic postulates, imposed and consequently imprisoning: they isolate language, modify it, upsetting it, liberating thus its profound vitality, they create new structures (acoustic as well as visual, syntactic as well as semantic) provoking the appearance of hitherto unknown situations and putting man into a permanent environment of creation and freedom.

This being so, these kinds of poetry tend more and more towards destruction of the very idea of a work of art in favor of the idea of transmitted energy. For example: one branch of concrete poetry yields structures, aesthetic information, schemes created from conscious, rational, methodical experiences, the "montage" implies total as well as pure participation of the emitter and of the receiver.

Another example: the sonie is an ensemble of sounds worked out on the tape recorder, transformed, purified, constructed, communicating finally to the auditor only a structure.

These kinds of poetry in their diversity as well as in their shared tendencies are driving forces, they are man come back, liberated from a pre-establishcd language imposed from childhood on with its burden of ideas and moralities, at the root of the forces and working there aided by the most modern techniques and consciousness, like the cosmonaut in space -the ethics residing in the audacity of change. Joy in the absence of narrow certainties , joy in the world open as it is, joy of creation in creation infinitely spacious, these kinds of poetry are not "fixed," they are constant1v becoming. It is in this sense that one must understand this text position: we have reached this point on 10 October 1963.

1. Language must be understood as the totality of functions, relations, radiations, linguistic concretions, but also as the noises, gestures, silences by means of which language grafts itself directly upon the universe in which we live.

Tr. Irène Montjoye Sinor, M.E.S.


(From Les Lettres, No. 32)

POSITION I DU MOVEMENT INTERNATIONAL was drafted by Pierre Garnier of France and signed by the following: Mario Chamie, Carl-Friedrich Claus, lan Harnilton Finlay, Fugitomi Yasuo, John Furnival, Ilse Garnier, Pierre Garnier, Eugen Gomringer, Boliumila Grögerová, Josef Hirsal, Anselm Hollo, Sylvester Houédard, Ernst Jandl, Kitasono, Katué, Frans van der Linde, E. M. de Melo e Castro, Franz Mon, Edwin Morgan, Ladislav Novák, Herbert Read, Toshinko Schimizu, L. C. Vinholes, Paul de Vree, Emmett Williams, Jonathan Williams, from the following countries: Germany, Austria, England, Belgium, Brazil, Scotland, Finland, France, Holland, Japan, Portugal, Switzerland, Czechoslovakia, the United States of America.

Ferdinand Kriwet agreed with POSITION I where "objective," "phonetic," and "visual" poetry were concerned. Henri Chopin's reasons for being unable to sign it are discussed with his poetry.

Pierre Garnier in UbuWeb Sound