The French sound poet Henri Chopin (June 18, 1922 – January 3, 2008) died last week; I got to know it only yesterday by mail , a newsletter from the “Schule für Dichtung, Wien” – The Vienna School for Poetry where I used to work and where I met Henri Chopin in the 90s. He was a wonderful teacher, did great practical and theoretical work. His death is a great loss.

Verse without words
Sound or abstract or concrete poetry is a form of literary composition in which the phonetic aspects of human speech are foregrounded at the expense of more conventional semantic and syntactic values, rendering them sometimes even meaningless.

Poetry expresses its sense more by aspects of the form i.e. phonetics rather than semantics – it’s true no matter weather you deal with lyrics, verses or free forms of construction. So the more the form is centered in transporting the sense of speech or utterance the more it differs from prose language. From this point of view sound poetry is the purest form of poetical expression!

By chance Nicholas V posted today the poet Edith Sitwell, more or less the first protagonist and inventor of abstract poetry: “The poems in Façade are abstract poems–that is, they are patterns of sound. They are…virtuoso exercises in technique of extreme difficulty, in the same sense as that in which certain studies by Liszt are studies in transcendental technique in music.” (Sitwell, 1949)
See the video on Nicholas’ page as a wonderful exemple for an early piece of sound poetry.

Further developpers of abstract poetry were among others:
Hugo Ball, Kurt Schwitters (“Ursonate”), Allen Ginsberg, William S. Burroughs.

Hommage à Henri Chopin, 2006

HENRI CHOPIN live at “colour out of space”, September 7th, 2007

Henri Chopin @ la Salsa Rossa, June 10th, 2007

Poetry Wednesday is hosted by Sans Souci