"Polypoetry" by Enzo Minarelli


by Enzo Minarelli

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, 1989):

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 true protagonists.

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.

January, 1990

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)

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