How do our retinal experiences alter what we think we know about alphabet? From minimal to maximal, the alphabet is explored and expanded on. From the contextual aggregates and combinations of letters to the visual elements that form a single letter. The visual poetry of alphabet insists that writing is the drawing of what and how we think, and within that writing, images accrue, the letters themselves, drawn, or otherwise printed, are illustrating or reproducing our thought.
Nico Vassilakis appears before us a master of visual poetry, one of the few, someone who understands the arrangement of letters into stareable sense, an unsense of the breathing heart, and he appears before us speaking of visual poetry as an act of making and seeing, speaking to us, speaking of himself, showing through the pages of this vast but tiny poetics just what his preaching practices, and the words are beautiful and teach of visual poetry as a poetry as told to us through a poetic poetics, and the images of letters, these dark and suppurating visual poems scattered through the text, haunt us back into sleep, back into dreaming of the humped and crooked and gracefully curving shapes of letters that have become an essential element of our blood—it is all here, where everything is of a piece and shattered into pieces.
Nico Vassilakis has created the perfect volume to delight and inspire the full spectrum of a visual poetry audience, ranging from someone unaware of the art, to the fully engaged, addicted practitioner of vispo. He delves into the progressively crystalline elements of visual poetry: the word, the letter, the fraction of a letter. The writing is brilliant; the visual poetry, stunning. Staring is replete with pure discovery, rendered in textual and visio-textual dimensions. Vassilakis recalls, reveals, and spawns pure visual poetry, inspiring full attunement to an inventively distilled magic.
—Sheila E. Murphy
Wow! I attended the Avant Writing conference where Nico Vassilakis composed staring@poetics and marvel how he is able to perform the formidable multitasking of writing this long poem and illustrating it with stunningly beautiful, computer generated, visual letter poems as his take on their emotional, visual impact while remaining attentive to the many oral presentations at this conference. But I shouldn’t be surprised – I have followed his poetic career for many years and found him to be one of the most challenging, cutting-edge, American poets today. The long poem or the visual poems are each worth the price of the book. This book deserves a place in any library of contemporary poetry.
—Marvin A Sackner
Co-Founder, The Ruth and Marvin Sackner Archive of Concrete and Visual Poetry, Miami, FL