On typewriting and visual poetry

Following Jörg’s advice from last week, I took my typewriter out of its case, stared at it for a little while, and soon enough I was out and about trying to locate a shop to buy ink ribbon.

I inherited my typewriter from my mom, who would have discarded it otherwise some years ago as we found ourselves emptying my grandmother’s flat of all her belongings. As a teenager typewriters were never part of my daily life, and I made the quick switch from handwritten texts (does anyone even remember those?) to essays typed on the computer over a couple of months. As a visual artist, the physical act of the pen on the page was always present and important, so I never actually discarded pen and paper, however as I found myself writing more and more, the computer became my best friend. Strangely enough though, and especially in the last year, the more I would sit in front of one, the more restless I would get; staring at an empty screen is by far worse than staring at an empty page, especially when the empty screen turns to the Internet for help. The 21st Century has brought us extensive and varied ways to procrastinate, and I realised I am most at peace writing sprawled on a floor or cramped in a corner, pen in hand, with instrumental music coming out of somewhere.

So setting up that Olivetti again, I felt like a child. Last weekend, for my birthday, my boyfriend got me an instant camera and my joy was so immense I could have a) cried and b) screamed; now I write my letters sitting in front of a typewriter and the whole situation, though beautiful, is also rather absurd.

The beauty of a typewriter is that all of a sudden, everything slows down. It’s not about how many words a minute you can write, it’s about concentration and being able to align thoughts. At first, I was sure the known fact that one cannot copy and paste, cannot erase and delete words or letters, would block me, but I’ve written more on that first day than I had in a whole month prior to that, probably because in me I had the absolute knowledge that this was an exercise, a test with no expectations. The physical act itself is very strange – it reminded me of playing the harpsichord, where you had to get the right amount of pressure on the keys to play the note right, where your fingers had to keep a harmonious shape and still be firm.

Our poetry exercises this month should relate to Emotions; and so I started getting a couple of lines together, playing with the visual aspect of the text as well as content, and here’s a simple example:



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