Since my first poetry events, I have always mixed the languages of
different media. "Il Poema Spettacolo" (The Poem Show," 20', 1979) was the
result of a long poem I declaimed, accompanied by the movements of two
dancers and a series of images to support some parts of the poem. As well,
there was a band which played soft rhythms stressing the meaning of some
words. Of course, the words of the poem had control while the other
elements entered into the show with the aim of emphasizing the sound
rhythms (only the dancers were free to present their own acting).
"Between me and the video words which are mine and the video's"
(15', 1978) was a special event where I had a dialogue with my own face,
pre-recorded in video. This was a dialogue made of repetition and
suggestions in a progressive crescendo so that it was not clear at all who
was repeating, who was suggesting. May repetitions cancel the meaning.
"Lo scrivano scrittura" ("The writer writing," 15', 1980) was an
example of live writing, with an eye of the movie-camera pointed at a
leaflet where I was writing in real time. My writing was visible on a large
screen at my shoulders, and my voice orally developed the written text.
"Diario Come" (Like a Diary," 20', 1982) focused on the image
becoming writing, the writing becoming sound. The sound text was
commissioned by National Italian Radio (RAI). The live show was created by
presenting images on three video screens, which had given rise to writing
exhibited by slides made from a diary. The writing itself was treated on
three tracks with a special metallic instrument, the "metallofono" (which I
made with the help of a craftsman), to create sound effects.
This was already polypoetry, although I began to theorize about it
only later in 1983 in the form of essays. The term "performance" as applied
to poetry is too reductive, and the same term (from the Latin, per formam)
always referred to art. In addition, the "poetry/theater" pair is not
correct, as it is not enough to send a poet onto the stage to say that we
have the theater of poetry. Theater implies many precise rules that the
poem is unable to make happen. I think "polypoetry" identifies something
exact which belongs only to sound poets.
Below I cite my "Manifesto of Polypoetry," published for the first
time in the catalogue Trames d'Art (Valencia, Spain, 1987) and later in the
catalogue A più voci (Florence, Italy: Festival of Sound Poetry,
1. Only the development of the new technologies will mark the progress of
sound poetry: the electronic media and the computer are and will be the
2. The object "language" must be increasingly investigated in its smallest
and largest parts: the word, basis of sound experimentation, takes the
characters of multi-word, broken into its inner body, restitched at its
exterior. The word must be able to free its own manifold sonorities.
3. The exploitation of sound has no limits. It must be carried beyond the
border of pure noise, a signifying noise: linguistic and oral ambiguity has
a sense only if it completely uses the instruments of the mouth.
4. The recovery of the sense of time (the minute, the second), apart from
the laws of harmony and disharmony, because only through editing is the
right parameter of synthesis and balance found.
5. Language is rhythm. Tone values are real vectors of meaning: first an
act of rationality, then an act of emotion.
6. Polypoetry is devised and realized for the live show; it gives to sound
poetry the role of prima donna or starting point to link relations with
musicality (accompaniment or rhythmic line), mimicry, movement, and dance
(acting or extension or integration of the sound text), image (television
or slide projection, by association, explanation or alternative and
redundancy), light, space, costumes, and objects.
Since 1983 my shows have been titled "Polypoetry": "Polypoetry 1" (1983),
"Polypoetry 2" (1985), "Polypoetry 3" (1987), and "Polypoetry 4" (1989).
Sound poetry proves itself to be a more and more ductile magnet, able to
attract all the other elements, grading and softening them. It is a real
prima donna, inexhaustible and tireless.
Copyright 1990 by Enzo Minarelli
Translation copyright 1990 and 1997 by Harry Polkinhorn
(excerpted from "The State of Poetry, The Strata of Polypoetry" Atticus
Review, 19 (Fall, 1990), np, trans. EM and Harry Polkinhorn)
Light and Dust Poets.
A cooperative publication of Atticus Review and Light and Dust Mobile
Anthology of Poetry.