Back in the 60’s and 70’s while living in New York, two books came to my attention: Bern Porter’s “Found Poems” and the “Anthology of Concrete Poetry” edited by Emmett Williams, both published by “Something Else Press.”  I tried my hand at what it represented, for me a new form of expression, without much success.  I was still under the influence of the powerful baroque imagery of Jose Lezama Lima and my inclination towards the complex imagery of Surrealism.

Years passed and it was here in Miami, where I moved with my family in 1978, that again I became familiar with the Concrete, Visual, and Sound Texts, thanks this time to the anthology edited by Richard Kostelanetz in 1980.  It was through my visit to the magnificent collection of Ruth and Marvin Sackner that my eyes were opened once more to this kind of poetry and its numerous ramifications.  Even so, I remained mute as far as trying to express myself along those lines.

Late 80’s and early 90’s: Aix-en-Provence and the discovery of the computer.  Aix was where finally it all fell into place.  First and foremost the coincidence between my readings of Beckett, Joyce, and Gertrude Stein with the music of composers such as Cage, Feldman, Webern, Scelsi, Xenakis, Braxton, Uri Caine, Keith Jarrett, (and Bach always), among others.  Added to the list: the paintings of Wols, Tobey, and my friend Baruj Salinas, all of which opened the way to my better understanding and practice of experimental poetry.  Then came the computer and with it the Internet where I discovered once more, the many facets of Visual Poetry through the websites of Bob Grumman, John M. Bennett, and Scott Helmes.  This started my correspondence with them, which added many new friends to my list: Irving Weiss, mIEKAL aND, Kathy Ernst, Geof Huth, Thomas Lowe Taylor, Jim Leftwich, Derek White, Michael Basinski, David Daniels, Guy Beining, Wendy Sorin, Karl Young, Steve Dalachinsky, Vernon Frazer, John Byrum, Chris Fritton, etc.  With them and so many others I became a practitioner of Vispo using the Paint program provided by my computer.  All of the above-mentioned poets encouraged me to continue and invited me to participate in several exhibitions and publications.  It is to them that I owe the drastic turn that took my poetry in a direction that I consider full of possibilities yet to be explored.

But all of that is history.  Now after 10 years of working side by side with those wonderful creative minds, I have tried to promote them to a more wide audience.  The publication of the first volume of “Writing to Be Seen” by Bob Grumman and Craig Hill provided me with the opportunity to prepare an exhibition at the Diana Lowenstein Gallery in 2003, plus a presentation at Books and Books.  This was our first inclusion in the Miami art world.  Now I have attempted to widen the scope of that exhibition, adding other names and joining forces with the “Subtropics” festival of experimental music, led by the young composer Gustavo Matamoros in order to present other variations of a poetical movement that continues to renew itself through the years.  This, I believe, is the main reason for presenting Visual Poetry to the Miami public at the Durban Segnini Gallery, which has generously opened its doors to such an endeavor.  Needless to say, behind all of this Ruth and Marvin Sackner’s dedication to promote Visual Poetry is the moving force of inspiration.  To all of them my admiration and gratitude.

Carlos M. Luis

March, 2005