Cover of to let lack by c.r.e. wells (aka Chris Wells) published by Timglaset Editions (Sweden)
Thanks to the extraordinary generosity of the Eternal Network, Asemic Front has received copies of two new asemic-visual poetry editions.
This first edition, to let lack (December 2017), is solo work by USA visual poet Chris Wells and beautifully produced by Timeglaset Editions of Malmo, Sweden. Ably edited by Joakim Norling, Timeglaset is gaining a reputation for publications of high quality and content. Asemic Front has reviewed their books before; and I plan to do more, as their editorial choices tend to complement AF project goals and illustrate my theories concerning asemics and visual poetry.
to let lack is a slim, collector’s book of four compositions (8 pages). Only 49 copies were produced for the edition, but in this case quality is far more important than quantity. Having lived with the book for awhile, I find myself returning again and again to it with fascination.
Page from to let lack by c.r.e. wells
In previous reviews, I have written about (for lack of a better term) a “school” of visual poetry in the Midwest USA – a geography of cultural production that coincides, strangely, with regions of devastating post-industrial economic contraction and decline. I’ve even called this school Vis-consin out of deference to one of its centers in the state of Wisconsin, although the poets are spread beyond that state.
Anyone versed in the dispersion of U.S. culture knows that movements of significance tend to radiate outward from either the East or West coasts. An enduring avant/post-avant literary movement emanating from the continental interior is a great rarity and, for that reason alone, deserves examination. Additionally, the poets are producing tremendous work.
Members who share this aesthetic and geographic bond have done impressive and groundbreaking work, even when placed on the competitive global stage. Some notables are Miekal And (Wisconsin), David Chirot (Wisconsin), Matthew Stolte (Wisconsin), Diane Keys (Illinois), C. Mehrl Bennett (Ohio), John M. Bennett (Ohio), Ficus strangulensis (West Virginia), among others. A newer generation is fast emerging.
Chris Wells has mastered a wide range of visual poetics, but his work frequently shows an affinity to this group I have identified. His location in Ohio qualifies him eminently. The pieces in to let lack particularly show the influence of Rust Belt vispo (see the black and white piece above).
My purpose here is not to outline the poetics of Vis-consin, which I have done at length elsewhere. I only want to make the point that I believe Chris Wells shows the influence of this poetic in a very pronounced way in to let lack. I am referring specifically to abstraction, minimalism in terms of color, organic form (although at root I see Wells as a formalist and you can find formalism in this collection), image-text synthesis, and the presence of asemics. Much Vis-consin work uses a copyart aesthetic that is gritty (industrial), anti-art and distorted. Many of the Vis-consin poets were deeply involved in the copyart movement. In terms of comparison, I see the influence of Matthew Stolte most in to let lack, even though I doubt Wells is making a conscious homage to any of the poets mentioned in this article.
Cover of your world hangs by Amanda Laughtland and C.R.E. Wells published by Faint Press (2018)
Next is a pamphlet by Amanda Laughtland and Chris Wells, which was issued by Faint Press in Ohio, USA. Wells’ Faint Press enjoys a relatively high degree of visibility thanks to Chris Wells’ active involvement in the Eternal Network.
your world hangs contains seven visual-textual works. The pamphlet is smaller and more informal than the impressive Timglaset production. The Wells-Laughtland collabs are of great interest and complexity. (Thus the visual presentation would benefit from being larger.) They have many Vis-consin qualities; but ultimately your world hangs is more refined abstract art than to let lack.
The work is far more dependent upon formalist structures than pieces by David Chirot or Diane Keys. Let me be clear – after the reference to abstract art – that I see the collection as a fine visual poetry lyric sequence that functions in a way similar to – say – a crown of sonnets. Is there such a thing as formalist vispo? Indeed, I am convinced there is.
Pages from your world hangs by Amanda Laughtland and C.R.E. Wells (2018)