(click on pictures to enlarge)
Permutation poems are constructed using an edited poem, a large grid, and an eight sided die. The poem is divided into lines with an equal numbers of words and then divided into stanzas that have as many lines as number of words in each lines creating little text-squares (think of an excel spreadsheet).
If the first word of the first line is located in, let’s say B7, and I roll a 4, that word would move to C7. If on the second time around I rolled a 6 that same word would move to B8. In this way the words of a poem are able to migrate across the page. The amount of dispersal the final poem has depends on the number of times you roll the die.
Door to Door
72 in2 of ½” x ¾” pine
4 wire nails
Art In America: March 2003, pg. 132 (third column)
Everyday Statistics: 1950, pg. 607-610
A Million Random Digits with 100,000 Normal Deviates: 1955, pg. 769
2 other pages of random digits: source unknown
243 in2 of cotton fabric
210 ft. black thread
31 ft. dark blue thread
the dimensions are 27” x 9” x ¾”
note: A.I.A #1 and A.I.A. #2 are columns one and two of page 132.
A.I.A is a three panel visual piece that reconstructs the three columns of text that appeared in an Art in America journal (only the third column is presented here). I used some high school math, an old typewriter, hand-made wooden frames, and about 7 pages of random generated numbers. I was able to rewrite the text by first finding out how many times each letter was used in the text. I did this by typing the entire page into a MS word document and substituting each letter with a dash. The program would tell me how many replacements were made. Then after finding the ratio of letter use from that page I was able to assign to each letter a number of numbers from the pages of random generated numbers with the letter E receiving the most. One rule that I held to throughout the construction of this piece was to maintain every detail of the original page: punctuation, layout, even the yellow splotch that appears was present on my copy. I was able to methodically rearrange every letter of the page according to the sequence of numbers that appeared on the pages of random numbers. After rearranging all the letters (a seriously draining and emotionally upsetting process), I typed all the letters onto cotton fabric normally used by oil painters. The fabric was then hand stitched onto the frames.
This poem is meant to be read aloud and with much gusto.
In the walking silences past breakwaters and piers
A faint, frontiered blue seethes against the map.
Drifting in & out of consciousness, words
every shade of earth and nocturnal welting line
Consume each trace and particle
Of the bodies pooling closer to the sun:
Dressing, undressing, and re-
Dressing the splay of their letters bottled in
A sky pitched over the bridge.
Halfway across was as far as we got
Before being stopped for days
By a landscape we couldn’t improve upon.
The colors refused the sluicing of our mouths
And you insisted we fold the scenery in half
For a time when there would be no reds,
Only the picture of an endless sea
Pinned between your legs
Drawing breath from the nuisance of its moorings.
The sandy licks your organs make
Over the toilet—fecund, bailing stops.
An animal’s jaw unanchored
Things we found on the strand.
Never once did we try to raise a dirty potato
From the coastal soils, as if to say, “this is us,”
Buried waist deep in another world
Rotating our hips back and forth.