Karenina.it - Experimental Poetry / Theories
THE POETIC IN(TER)VENTION
At a time in which images, sound, information and accelerated rhythm are
the crudest realities of our ever-changing society, exploring new paths in
poetics rapidly makes us aware that traditional poetry does not suffice to
transmit, in an active and effective form, everything we think, what we
feel, everything we want to express.
Writing is becoming an insufficient means of expression not only because of
the wearing out of certain words, worn and torn by usage but, principally,
due to the lack of visual communication in writing.
A message should be transmitted in such a way that its format as well as its
contents contribute to rapid and profound apprehension of what is meant to
be transmitted. This is a question of both aesthetics and practicality.
Thus it became necessary to increase the visual value of letters, syllables
and words, so that the act of reading could have another motivation and
result in a more stimulating experience.
There were poets who began to set words in motion and to create new
structures for them on the page, in a way that they had different possible
interpretations. This multiplication of the meaning of words made possible a
change in the relationship poet/poem/reader and this change resulted in
another understanding of the reading, as there was a more creative
interpretation of the contents of the poem than the relatively passive
result of the reading of the linear and sequential, lyrical poem.
In this quest for a greater visual expressiveness of writing, some
experiments were carried out, in which the images appeared associated with
the words, resulting in an even greater intensity of reading and of the
It so happened that not only the content of the poem was important but
also its form, that is, the form of the individual poem; more: the form also
became the content and began to constitute a part of the poem, in such a way
that it became impossible to (neither was it very important to) distinguish
one from the other, seeing that the two, in conjunction, contributed to the
transmission of the message.
But all of this investigative work placed the traditional method of
writing - the book - in check. The method became limited, unable to permit
greater plasticity and informative expressiveness.
Whereas the book fulfilled its function on a contents level, it soon
revealed itself insufficient as a medium of transmission. The communicative
process demanded more - as much in relation to content and form, as to the
form of that content.
In books, the poem continued to be limited by the margins of the pages and
reduced to the bi-dimensionality of the surface of the paper. For this
reason other methods of transmitting poetry were employed: various methods
of diffusing different signs, such as the object-poem, the installation,
video, the computer and the performance.
The most accomplished of these media, the performance, began through its
specific characteristics to transform the traditional concept of poetry and
modify the entire relationship between the poet and the reader.
In the performance usedas a medium to transmit the poetic message, the poem
received a new expressive liberty, acquiring other components such as
movement, volume, colour, light and sound, which in their turn definitively
altered the ideas of space and time in writing. Thus, what before was static
in the poem, became profoundly aesthetic.
The performance or, more precisely: the poetical intervention (noting that,
while in the performance the body is the main element in the formulation of
the work, in the poetical intervention it functions more as an instrument of
writing, since the writing itself is most important) in contrast to other
media used in poetry, incorporates the poet himself as performer and factor
of consecution of the poem.
By direct intervention of the poet, using his body as a means of poetical
transmission and as a manipulator of the relative objects on stage, poetry
becomes, for the very first time, truly interactive in all levels - both in
the aspects of notions, materials, techniques and media (such as the
slide-projector, the tape-recorder, the computer or the video) and in the
nature of the creator/obcerver relationship.
As the author and the "reader" are present during the elaboration of the
poem, the reaction of the "reader" is simultaneous with the action developed
by the author. Therefore the interaction between action and reaction assumes
an important part in the unfolding of the poem, altering completely the
classical image of poetry.
Dissected by the performance, the poem cannot be defined as a finished work,
static and immutable. The poem presents itself "live", and the poet becomes
the producer of situations and emotions which continue to "write" his poem,
departing from a pre-determined intention.
The spectator, in reacting to the development of the poem, is able to
influence it, sometimes even altering its final form. This aspect is
important to the comprehension of the interactive poem, and renders it more
able to accomplish its communicative and informative functions because it
offers us two paths creator/spectator and spectator/creator.
Using the performance as a medium, the poem ceases to be limited by the page
and begins to occupy all of the surrounding space, which alters the spatial
structure of the poem.
In the same way, the notion of time is significantly altered. In traditional
poetry the poem is presented to the reader as a finished work, unchange-able
and maintaining its form infinitely. With the poetical intervention, the
idea of the immortality of the poem is surpassed perfectly. The poem exists
only as it begins, progresses and terminates. It takes on a life of its own,
with a beginning, middle and end, and ceases to be a sacred and untouchable
object. And because the performance is unrepeatable (it is impossible to
repeat it exactly), the summary of the poem stays only in the memory of
those who enjoyed it, whereby for complete comprehension and assimilation of
the poem, the "reader" must decode the multiplicity of related items, signs
and feelings which comprise it, and should know how to relate them to
Thus, because the poet intervenes actively and physically in the execution
of the poem and - because the different signs are presented simultaneously
and -because there exists an interrelationship of the meanings in each
moment of the poem and -because various notions, techniques, and media are
used and - because the notions of lime and space are significantly altered
and - because the relationship between the poet/reader are transformed in a
radical fashion and - because it is in the performance that the notion of
interaction is best applied, we may consider the poetic intervention, at
this time, to represent poetry raised to its highest exponent.
Born in Lisbon, in 1956.
Since 1972 he dedicates to experimental and visual poetry, using the most diversified techniques and supports as photography, installations, electrography, performance, video or computer.
Published 17 books of poetry, juvenile and anthologies of portuguese and international visual poetry in Portugal, Germany, Spain and Italy.
“O DEDO”, Lisbon, 1981 (Poetry)
“POEMOGRAFIAS – Perspectivas da Poesia Visual portuguesa”, Lisbon,1985 (Anthology)
“MINIMAL POEMS”, 1994, Siegen, Germany (Poetry)
“OS OLHOS QUE O NOSSO OLHAR NÃO VÊ”, Lisbon, 1999 (Poetry)
“A ESSÊNCIA DOS SENTIDOS”, Lisbon, 2001 (Poetical Performances)