Rea NIKONOVA (Russia)
Rea Nikonova (b. 1942) – poet, essay writer, artist, mail-artist. Author of numerous
experimental poetry publications, essays and books. Since 1965 she has been the publisher of the magazine Nomer, from
1979 to 1986 R. Nikonova published the magazine Transponance
(co-editor S. Segay), that focused on the issues of
theory and practice of experimental poetry. Since 1991 she has been publishing
the international magazine of visual poetry and mail-art Double
(Yeisk). Participated in a great number of exhibitions
of experimental poetry, mail-art and hand-made books. She has conducted sound
poetry performances since 1983. Her works are published in a number of international literary
editions, articles-studies about the poet’s creative activities have been
published. For more
information see the bio-bibliography of the participant.
Taken from the poet’s
© 2000 Rea Nikonova, Kiel.
THE DEBT OF SOUND
Sound poetry is, if you will, the sole variety of poetry possessing a technical base. Video poetry is trying to catch up with it, but with very little success. Sound poetry has liquidated the lag behind from music very simply – it has joined all of music’s achievements to itself. The capture took place before our very own eyes and was accomplished with blitzkrieg swiftness; perplexed ‘choral musicians’ are up till now in a quandary over this issue, and are trying to vibrate articulation, but in vain. Visual poetry has played an enormous part in the success of this capture, having developed omnipotent scored scenarios and managed to visually (provisionally) turn as many things as possible into music.
However, not everything has been captured and digested, in part because poetry still as yet possesses no elegant objective theories; poetic dimensions are the sole attributes we possessed in this field, and they are progressing slowly; all the remaining theories, serial and chordal, are developing unnoticeably (in my poetry these are alphabetical syllables and vertical chordal architexture). There are no general theories in existence, and, correspondingly, still as yet no poetic formation that allows ‘spontaneous’ poets to sing of the surrounding landscape with a coefficient of creation that comes to nothing.
Günther Ruch, Jürgen J. Olbrich.
There is also no system of recording poetic texts, although visual poetry in this respect has moved far past us into the vanguard: having developed topographic scenarios, gesticular signs and vacuum specialisation (similar).
In sound poetry, I have proposed additional lines on the musical stave: for colour and for silence; and a multitude of people are working on the adaptation of the old system of recording music to modern requirements: in clusters, abstract “general sounds”, and vacuum genres. The integrational tendencies are such that the desire to “read through a letter” with the aid of a grand piano keyboard or construct a text like a building are no longer anything out of the ordinary.
Popular singers are dropping like flies from the stupidity of the texts that they have to sing, so a recitative has become the norm (tautological), and all these not-quite-sound poets have a premonition that they need a more poetic sound (but not more poetic lyrics). There is little poetry left in life; it has become exotic and a rarity, just like one’s own heart in one’s body gradually becoming not one’s own, and replaced by one out of the public stocks.
There are many sounds, but they are passed through the brains of poets. There is not enough sound poetry, though in general the standard of sound culture is high. Anyone can now record any old thing and promulgate it, but all this is like a performance in a restaurant so that one can digest better. Even at European sound festivals, poets perform concert pop-tricks, like real comperes, or demonstrate irreproachable sound scores of studio character, obviously existing ‘near music’, but stand stock still when performing, demonstrating their own helplessness, and, I would say, superfluousness on the stage.
Meanwhile, the sound poet during performance is a jack of all trades: both a geographer, for he must travel round the stage (sound emanating from one point is dull and dishonest), an actor, a vocalist, a musician (without a sense of rhythm and sound, a sound poet would cease to exist), and a poet – the whole mass of literature with its texts sharpened like stakes stands before the sound poet and makes him bend his neck down to the microphone: more distinctly pronounce the unclear, and form the silence! The poet dots pauses into the text, texts into the sound, and sounds into the brain. For the brain is a harp, and one should play on it carefully and skilfully, not muffling the important and imperceptible parts out of which noise is comprised with the general fashionable noise.
When cooperating with musicians (and among sound poets this is not rare), one needs to recognize oneself not as an ‘additional instrument’ with a human timbre, but, on the contrary, a leader of an expedition, knowledgeable of the road through the swamp of sound; the musician owes you several sounds – use the repayment of this debt – and that is it. Visual and action effects are more important and may become equally valuable partners and messengers of your tragedy. Do not cut your own head off, it is both uncomfortable and premature. Drag the silence through the microphone, like silk through the stomach, and the long, long hyphen will become a symbol of your poetry.
Translated by Subhi Sherwell.Previous (Lawrence UPTON), Next (Philadelpho MENEZES)