Thursday, July 28, 2016

POETICS AND VISUALITY: A Trajectory of Contemporary Brazilian Poetry

An in-depth study by Philadelpho Menezes, professor of Semiotics and Communication at the Pontifical Catholic University of São Paulo, on the evolvement of experimental poetry in Brazil is a worthy read for poetry lovers. Take advantage of the fact that it has been translated into English by Harry Polkinhorn, currently an editor for SDSU Press, and order a copy today

POETICS AND VISUALITY: A TRAJECTORY OF CONTEMPORARY BRAZILIAN POETRY is a survey how visuality was incorporated into and formed experimental Brazilian poetry throughout the course of 40 years from an insider's understanding. Part I examines the spatialization of the verse and the concretism that followed in the 1950s. He takes readers through a close look at three versions of concretism: Noigandres, Dias-Pino, and neo-concretism. 

"ruasol" by Ronaldo Azeredo, 1957
Concretism was an attempt to break away from a tradition of verbal expression to begin exploring communication that tapped more into the verbal senses. The differences between the versions of concretism were mostly based on how they perceived space in a poem. In the Noigandres vein, words were arranged geometrically and there was no linear syntax. Dias-Pino concretism prioritized symmetry and mathematics, and neo-concretism was a fusion of the previous two that created an active experience for spectators that was meant to go beyond contemplation and that formed meaning based on the spectator instead of the signs and their positioning according to the poet's taste.

The following sections of POETICS AND VISUALITY look at subsequent movements that expanded the ideas of concretism. Part II is a study of the wordless poetry of the 1960s, and Part III is one on visual poetry. Menezes classifies visual poetry as collage poetry, package poetry, and montage poetry. The creation of such poetry during Brazil's repressive military dictatorship that lasted from 1964 to 1985 was an additional factor that influenced the development of the country's experimental poetry. The social function of art as a critique of the status quo came through in a movement that in itself was inherently a statement against conventional modes of expression. 
"Sick transit" by José Paulo Paes, 1973

Particularly in the last sections of the book, Menezes provides examples of poems that fit into his analysis and he goes into detail about the construction, meaning, and tradition from which each poem stems. POETICS AND VISUALITY, another goodie from SDSU Press, has the perfect combination of direct examples, theory, and chronological organization that can lead readers to appreciate experimental poetry in Brazil and its impact on the international poetry scene. 

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

DEAD SEA SCROLLS: SDSU Press' Collaboration in the World's largest and Most Comprehensive Exhibition of the Dead Sea Scrolls

San Diego State University Press is proud of having collaborated with the San Diego Natural History Museum to produce a catalogue that complemented the Dead Sea Scrolls exhibition in 2007. The Dead Sea Scrolls are 2,000-year-old texts that were found by Bedouin goat-herders in Israel, on the northwestern shore of the Dead Sea. In the mid 20th century, archaeologists also began digging out the ancient texts that had been left untouched in caves for many centuries. The region in which they were found, today known as Khirbet Qumran, once existed under Greco-Roman rule and was known as Judaea. The community that wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls are widely believed to have been a group that separated from more mainstream Judaism. While they did not ultimately survive under Roman rule, it is apparent that several of the ideas demonstrated in the texts have indeed survived. They were written at a time when Christianity and Judaism as we know them were in the beginning stages of their development, and the influence that they have had on the foundations of Western society can be appreciated thanks to the close research of dedicated scholars. If you missed the 2007 Dead Sea Scrolls exhibition there is no need to worry, because SDSU Press still has an informative and visually beautiful volume in store for you. 

DEAD SEA SCROLLS is laid out in such a way that allows readers to see the actual scrolls that researchers have deciphered. The categories of text that lead you through the different scripts allow one to understand their physical condition, the interpretation that has been reached on their meaning, and the content of their words via translated lines. The images of the scrolls themselves are stunning, and thanks to pointers such as the "Look at the scroll" category that explains the physical appearance and the structure of the writing in the excerpts, one can get closer to the experience of researchers themselves. It becomes all the more easy to appreciate the work that has been done on these significant archaeological finds when you see how the passage of time has worn down many of the texts written over animal skin and how this has not been enough to erase their meaning. Links of the present to the past have not been severed, but strengthened as we see how the ideas of ancient communities have formed the modern era that we are part of. 

Visit our Amazon store to get your hands on your copy of DEAD SEA SCROLLS! The three sections of the volume will give you access to scrolls from the Israel Antiquities Authority, the Department of Antiquities of Jordan, and codexes from the National Library of Russia in St.Petersburg.