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Wednesday, December 19, 2012


Here is an image of one of the most popular miniature chairs about, Vitra's Planton Chairs:
Sadly, I don't have the chairs -- though would love to have them in my collection.  Until I can afford them, however, I am pleased to be more than soothed by Indian poet and engineer S.S. Prasad's visual poem:

As a master of tiny, excuse Moi, nano-poems, Prasad is an apt commenter on this project!  Anyway, I appreciated his poem right away (for reasons detailed below).  But before I offered his reaction, I asked him what he was thinking of when he created the poem.  He replied:
I was thinking of the plural form of this noun. Plastic chairs, when not in use, are arranged one over the other to occupy less space, it so appears it is a single chair that sometimes one sits on without wanting to dismantle the pieces. The visual arrangement of one chair over the other to have a plurality of it, yet  shows a singular form- the plurality is constructed from bottom to top.

The representation is more compact in that it allows an embedding of adjective. How many chairs? The representation will differ depending on the number of chairs. Thus we can classify multiples not just as singular and plural, but with more granularity, and using a single word. Thus it's a number poem. Sanskrit offers three classifications: singular, dual or pairs, plural. Did English have it originally? I was trying to question it by the rearrangement.

The stacking of H is borrowed from Ana Maria Uribe.

Here Are some links on the Argentinian visual poet Uribe: and  And if you go to her, you can see a stacking element on the home page.

I replied back to Prasad:
As for what I think of your poem, it's interesting.  I read it and then thought about it for a couple of days.  But in my memory, the capitalized "H" you use was a small "h" in my memory.  And so I thought the poem brilliant because by stacking the h at the bottom of the line of letters, you were creating chairs -- indeed, multiple chairs -- through the shape of the "h".  Then I returned to the poem .. and saw that the image instead was "H".  Which is all actually a metaphor for how one reads a poem, isn't it? One reads a poem (subjectively) the way one wants to see the poem. That's the difference between a poem and a technical manual where one actually has to submit to the words being presented.  Hm. Maybe that's why I'm having a difficult time understanding the manual on my brand new dishwasher (haha).

And Prasad replied back: it strikes me how you imagined the 'h' in the poem in small letters! I thought I saw that Uribe poem long back on  the IOWA review site: it was  a series of spirals/ladders using the alphabet 'H' which is mute in Spanish. It represented ascension, but the spirals eventually meant evolution. As far as I remember seeing them, they were in capitals. I landed at all other sites than the original, and here is what I found; you'll certainly like to read them. In the review essay, I find 'h' in small letters though. I think it has to do with how our eyes register things seen: the image is inverted on the retina and reinverts in the brain. So something similar must be going on biologically with small and caps!

I'm tempted to argue against the dishwasher's technical manual not being poetry. I did notice a work of art in nokturno using some such manual, I'll argue this point with you separately :-)

But whilst I wait for my future discussion on technical manuals as poetry (actually, I'm quite open to the idea!), Prasad isn't done.  He noted in a postscript:

The 'H' in chairs helps avoid repetition as well as conjoins. It's a matrix transposition, as well as transposition of alphabets in the given word.

I'm delighted Prasad visited and stayed (sat!) for a while.  All this conversation, of course, makes me even hungrier to have a set of multiples in my chair collection.  But I'm still waiting for the humongous royalty checks from any one of my over twenty books (hah!), e.g. THIS, THISTHIS and THIS! (Sorry to advertise but, yes, I need money for chairs!).

Meanwhile, you may come here for chairs ... in which case, yes, I invite you to sit and peruse the links on an innovative poet: Ana Maria Uribe.

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