SOUNDTEXT. Some Currents of Contemporary Poetry
6. 9. 2022 - 29. 9. 2022

Artists: Anna Anthropy, Abril Iberico, Alan Pelaez Lopez, Astra Papachristodoulou, Audra Wolowiec, Caitlin Fisher, Cecilie Bjørgås Jordheim, Fátima Miranda, Kinga Toth & blanche the vidiot, Mahogany L. Browne, Melody Peijing Mou, Nežka Zamar, Nicole Sealey, Yara Mekawei, Zuzana Husárová

Curator: Nina Dragičević


Exhibition events

7. 9. at 7 pm: artist talk Yara Mekawei (Topographies of Sound Festival)

8. 9. between 7 pm and 10 pm: Zuzana Husárová: Energy: Sleep; sound poetry concert (Topographies of Sound Festival)

15. 9. at 6 pm: viewing of the exhibition with curator Nina Dragičević

29. 9. at 6 pm: viewing of the exhibition with curator Nina Dragičević


In defence and horror of intertextuality: poetry cannot do without other poetry, poetry wants innovations, it draws them from those without which, as said, it can not do, means nothing and longs for meaning, even if we are in the confluence of currents, even if there are no currents, because the independent self that opens the door to freedom, that poetry is capable of freedom, yet wherever we look, everything revolves around a lack of freedom.

Paradoxes emerge: poetry is supposed to be able to resolve them because it does not care, it goes where it wants, it is what it thinks, no one apparently understands it, the critics are supposed to understand what they write, “criticism is useless,” Tzara will exclaim. What are they writing, the line breaks, in the break the intention: poetry.

The plateaus of poetry are plateaus without beginnings and without ends. In defence and horror of intertextuality. We do not want sequences. This is not a statement of time or a plea, this is an acoustic principle. The whoosh of thoughts as acoustic phenomena that do not merge, at best meet, no lines are drawn here, a single spatiality. The one and only, where there are many, cannot be grasped here. “Whenever the wind blows / I try to question it,” writes Michitsuna no Haha in the 10th century.[1] Idiophone poetry, where words, thoughts and ideas ring out of their own accord and for themselves: the questionability of the phenomenon. “Min salihihi wali kinahu / Rahi hatiman / fi is bahi lahu fassun,” Elsa Lasker-Schueler (1869–1945) replies a little later; she uses the proto-language (Ursprache) for poetry which, she insists, she discovered herself and which was “spoken in the time of King Saul, the Royal Wild Jew”.[2] DADA is at work and: “Vigour and thirst, emotion faced with a form that can neither be seen nor explained – that is poetry.”[3] Else Lasker-Schüler goes, Wanda Coleman (1946–2013) aka “the LA Blueswoman” arrives, with which jazz poetry probably reaches its peak. This is of course not true because Jayne Cortez (1934–2012) comes later. Consider her poetry albums Celebrations and Solitudes (1974), Unsubmissive Blues (1980) and Everywhere Drums (1990). “My pelvis is blushing,” says Jayne Cortez. The atmosphere heats up and Joy Harjo (1951–) says that “a jazz riff on the radio … was the first piece of poetry” that she encountered. Riff: a phrase, an acoustic verse, the establishment of a space in which things are built up just as persistently as they are knocked down. The rituals of everyday life, the linearity of rituals, speak of the noise that is nothing other than a carefully organised society. When society longs for order, when it cannot stand the noise, it finds itself in a paradox with itself. That is why everything in poetry is full of laughter. Breaking, creating dissonance, cutting, then cutting into the cut, poetry is always in the reverberation. This is when it belongs. In defence and horror of intertextuality.

Poetry is sonorous. This is perhaps most evident when so-called visual poetry appears. “This new kind of combined technique of verbal-visual signs, symbols, ideograms and pictograms addresses visual perception, but with a new technique of communication,” wrote Vera Horvat-Pintarić in 1969.[4] The relatively universally accepted belief of the time, due to Marshall McLuhan, is that the medium is already understood as a message. The intervention into visual perception is a move that lends itself to societies with a visualistically structured perception. We will look differently, and hopefully see differently, because the text will no longer convey only a linear story, a message, but we will manipulate its dynamics with enriched visual signs. The enrichment itself will come to the fore. But what if we look at it differently? And say: the viewer’s potential to perceive and interpret is inseparable from their potential to listen and hear. Where the typography and visual composition of the new poem present her with a non-linear yet condensed and limited message, the listener does not read it; she cannot avoid looking at it; but precisely when she looks at it, she hears it, because she deals with the linguistic signs through the verboarticulatory apparatus ≈ It is not that she does not find meaning because she sees it, but because she composes the perceived signs, together with their joint constellation, into articulations capable of sonic structure (composition). Looking as hearing, thinking as prototone. Visual poetry is first and foremost acoustic poetry.

From all the recounted, of which there are only a few fragments in this text due to the circumstances, some currents of contemporary poetry take form. But if, for instance, the core period of so-called visual poetry, similarly to the avant-gardes before that, tried to break with linear narration and conventional ways of creating meaning, if it even wanted to abolish or at least ignore meaning in some places, certain currents of contemporary poetry take on a fantastic, exciting starting point: we will tear down the existing and conventional, the established meanings are no good, but we will do so by very much constructing meanings, this time with and from the existing and established. The opening – measured out and very controlled opening – of the literary space to minorities and discriminated social positions has in recent decades made possible a change of perspective that modernist literature has been talking about for well over a century. The turn: the medium is no longer the message, it is the tool. It is no longer about language, it is about living realities. Living realities have always existed. But they had to be recognised and acknowledged first. And so they go: hearing and noting down a lie in an official record of truth (Nicole Sealey), finding a linguistic kinship in a hyperdistant object (Audra Wolowiec), hearing vibrations of linguistic transitions in a book-object (Astra Papachristodoulou), creating longing out of a narrative (Anna Anthropy), hearing destruction, fear and a shoved step in a photo that lacks importance for the world (Alan Pelaez Lopez), making acoustic sculptures out of mystical literature (Yara Mekawei), articulating the disappearance of auditory potential (Abril Iberico), illuminating verbality (Nežka Zamar) and so on around the exhibition SOUNDTEXT.

Nina Dragičević


[1] Rexroth, Kenneth and Atsumi, Ikuko. 1977. Women Poets of Japan. New York: New Directions.

[2] Martens, Klaus. 2003. Two Glimpses of the Baroness. In: The Politics of Cultural Mediation: Baroness Elsa Von Freytag-Loringhoven and Felix Paul Greve, Paul Hjartarson and Tracy Kulba-Gibbons (eds.). Alberta: The University of Alberta Press, pp. 41–45.

[3] Tzara, Tristan. 2016. Seven Dada Manifestos and Lampisteries. Surrey: Alma Books.

[4] Horvat-Pintarić, Vera. 1969. Oslikovljena riječ. Bit international, no. 5–6, pp. 3–69.


Abril Iberico Mevius draws her interest from LGBTQ+ cinema and the representation of people with hearing disabilities; 2022 Cadence Video Poetry festival Award winner for Canción de púas.

Alan Pelaez Lopez’s work attends to the realities of trans and nonbinary people, the undocumented migrants in the US and the Black condition in Latin America.

Anna Anthropy is a video game designer, role-playing game designer and interactive fiction author.

Astra Papachristodoulou is a PhD researcher, exploring sculptural poetics as a revolutionary act in the Anthropocene.

Audra Wolowiec’s work oscillates between sculpture, installation, text and performance with an emphasis on sound and the materiality of language.

Caitlin Fisher researches immersive storytelling, electronic literature and future cinema.

Cecilie Bjørgås Jordheim works with the translation between visual and auditive systems, concrete poetry and the concept of isomorphia.

Fátima Miranda’s four-octave range and extended vocal techniques bring diverse techniques into a rich partnership with the avant-gardes.

Kinga Toth is a writer, visual and sound-poet, and performer; 2020 Hugo Ball Förderpreis award winner.

Mahogany L. Browne is an award-winning poet and writer. She served as the Black Lives Matter coordinator at Pratt Institute; currently works for the Bowery Poetry Club.

Melody Peijing Mou is a new media artist; her work focuses on critical ecology, language and experimental narrative.

Nežka Zamar focuses on questioning the limits of identity and individuality of language, expanding the interspace between materiality and concept.

Nicole Sealey is a finalist for the PEN Open Book, the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award and the winner of the 2016 Drinking Gourd Chapbook Prize.

Yara Mekawei’s sonic bricolages draw inspiration from urban centres and show aspects of her cultural identity in East African society.

Zuzana Husárová is an author of experimental literature, sound poetry, interactive digital poetry and transmedia poetry.


Slovene proofreading: Inge Pangos

English translation: Arven Šakti Kralj

Cover image: Alan Pelaez Lopez, “Vision on the Eleventh Day of July, Two Thousand Fourteen”, Intergalactic Travels: Poems from a Fugitive Alien, 2020.

Design: Lea Jelenko

Photos of the opening: Simao Bessa

Exhibition view: Klemen Ilovar


The Škuc Gallery programme is supported by the Ministry of Culture and the Municipality of Ljubljana.