The Matrix Poems: 1960-1970 Norman H. Pritchard

Published by Primary Information, New York & Ugly Duckling Presse, New York, 2021, 224 pages, 10 × 18 cm, English

Price: €18

The Matrix by Norman H. Pritchard (1939–1996) gathers a selection of the Concrete and Black Arts poet’s work from 1960 to 1970. The seventy-one poems collected here might be regarded, as Charles Bernstein has written, as “sound” poems, being tethered not only to the literature of the Black Arts Movement but also to jazz culture and urban life in New York. Drawing as much from the visual arts and concrete poetry as from sound-based experimentation and music, Pritchard utilized the simple tools of spacing and typography to create syncopations, vibrations, and musical rhythms. What emerges is nothing less than a self-contained system of mimetic codes that challenge modernist modes of perception and representation. Formally innovative and anticipating what Michael Riffaterre would come to call the semiotics of “ungrammaticalities,” the book is a syntactical and visual experience in repetition, stutters, and structure.

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