With this first installment of mail art from Cheryl Penn, I am only beginning to appreciate her work. I hope we continue as active IUOMA friends. Here is a message from Cheryl (I hope she doesn't mind) that gives some insight into what she's doing because I know others are receiving her mail-art:
"The symbols come from many language systems - the only criteria I have used is that they are before the formulation of English. I started to choose symbols to represent an alphabet, but that fell back into an English based language, if you know what I mean?? [Yes, I do - DVS] At the moment they hold remnants of their original meanings - for example, the first one is the Egyptian symbol for 'the horizon on the dead,' or the place where the sun sets [William Burroughs - "Place of Dead Roads" -same references extactly - DVS] - but of course even that is up for debate! The cross obviously is a universal symbol of north south east west etc. [Other things too, I think - DVS] The symbols mix cuneiform, Babylonian, Egyptian, Asian, Chinese, Congelese etc etc - in fact they in themselves, by being gathered and situated on one page are a melded universal language [Very cool - DVS]. They have all just been reduced/enlarged to a standard size - a sort of text/font. I suppose I am talking abut a new language scheme rather than a system of meaning. I am not particularly interested in the Language Turn, all the debates surrounding semiotics [Smart - meta-language tends to consume its victims - DVS]. To be quite frank, I am working intuitively at the moment [Way to go!!! - DVS], not really understanding exactly where I am heading [I welcome you to the club - DVS]. Perhaps it will head to visual poetry that is not is a known language??? [Kinda up to you -DVS]." Here is scan-gone-wrong that works as a nice detail piece of Cheryl Penn's work:
This page is from Ezra Pound's "The Cantos," which were written over decades. This is a relatively late one. Pound began embedding ideograms in certain Cantos, and it generated all kinds of discussion for decades. What is also interesting on this page is that the words drift away from being left-justified and start to make a shape on the page. You would not believe the discussion that some small thing like this has generated, but there is simply no justification in a strict poetic sense why he should have done this. Traditionalists were and still are very, very concerned about what we might consider minor disturbances in the force like this. You can see in Pound THE POEM IS BECOMING VISUAL, A GLYPH unto itself. Before The Cantos, Pound founded Imagism, which was preoccupied with visual aspects of poetry. What we are seeing today was in the literary cards at the beginning of the 20th century, but fiercely resisted in many quarters. From a U.S. perspective: It found its way to Black Mountain College via Olson and others, it found its way to Dick Higgins and Something Else Press. It found its way right here to many of the U.S. vispoets at IUOMA. It came from high modernism as well as Da Da, constructivism, all the isms you can spew. And don't you love this Pound stuff - what an insane joker, only there was this little problem... - he's babbling about US Presidents from the Adams family, somehow jumps to Stalin - just collage really. Anyway, Cheryl, enough from me.
Cheryl Penn mail-art books and much more:
I hope you respond. And thank you!