Identities

$20.00
2012, 8" x 10", color, 88 pgs.
ISBN 1-936687-04-6 | EAN-13 978-1-936687-04-6

Like other collections of visual poems, Irving Weiss's Identities asks to be looked at first and then read insofar as the poems may be readable. We were once brought up on searching out the hidden meanings in word poetry and treating works of "art" with respect, but Weiss considers his poems to be the vispo equivalent of light verse. Identities runs from spoofs and put-ons through cartoons and scribbling to the obvious what you see is what you get. If you hang a visual poem in a gallery it becomes a work of art. Ultimate identity signatures are mostly scrawls. Poetry is anything but poetic. One poem in Identities consists of a footnote explaining why there's nothing on the page at all. That's the idea.

Is this text enhanced with visual elements - or are these visual compositions peppered with text? Weiss rides a see-saw of possibilities that jab into directions both familiar and unexpected. There is a sense of a heightened collage brain working to accent and strike a balance between word and picture. This book promotes the equilibrium of the two. It is, more than anything, readable, that is, it attracts the reader to engage the text by way of visual enticement. The range of Weiss' visual poetry utilizes myriad styles and examples. This work captures, or even stops, the alphabet from ever becoming visual by insisting the text be read. The parts are distinct and separate—it's visual and it's poetry.

—Nico Vassilakis

IdentitiesIrving Weiss recovers the invention of identity by way of his brilliant inner/outer eye. He invites the question, "What constitutes identity?" We join the quest for evidence amid the figurative polyphony of place, speed, magnitude, contrast, and context. This important and varied work surprises on all fronts, ranging from contemporary to permanent, to non-existent. I am amazed by the confluence of all styles philosophical, the enlistment of materials, and the sotto sense of humor that typifies each individual celebration. The bounty of intellect that is Irving Weiss defies categorization, while inspiring every conscious being to invoke our right to retrieve a primary innocence.

—Sheila E. Murphy

For some decades now, Irving Weiss has been publishing a unique and rich collection of customarily complex visual poems here and there. Instead of repeating himself within any departure, which I tend to do, he has followed Ernst Jandl's stricture never to make any move more than once. Giving the variety of texts published under his name, I (and perhaps others) thought that "Irving Weiss" must be several different poets using the same moniker, So Xexoxial Editions deserves our gratitude for collecting the classic Weisswerks within a single set of covers. Some of them will be remembered decades hence. While the publisher let me audit them on screen for this advance notice, I'll treasure having them here, home beside me, in print.

—Richard Kostelanetz

What Irving Weiss does with a visual poem is everything that can be done with one. His is a rampant imagination gone amuck among the muck of words and images aswirl around him. Making references both to classic literature (and art) and the daily onslaught of the commercial world against the American psyche, his poems are wrecking fields of meaning, showing where language fails to work and how wonderfully yet exasperatingly it does so. He requires of us some attention because his poems are made out of words that say things to us, however indirectly they seem to communicate, and because they use images as if they were words or phrases. His is a visual poetry that demands interpretation but gently, through the near-constant use of humor and irony, through the beauty of his wiry handwriting when he uses it, via his eye for beauty, and yet still by forcing us to see ugliness for what it is. His poems are détourned images, reimagined found texts, texts processed into new meanings, sequences of patterns, conceptual extravaganzas, and places for him to play with permutations, puns, jokes, wordplay, asemic text, mailart, and anything else, anything at all, that works the word in its visual form into something surprising, unusual, unexpected—and all the more real for that.

—Geof Huth

Price: $20.00