Manifesto For A New Poetry Visual And Phonic (1962)

by Pierre Garnier

Once we lived safely beneath our stratum of air. Now we are waves spouting in the cosmos. How can we expect our words to remain wrapped up in the atmosphere of the sentence?

Let them be reunited, like ourselves, to cosmic space–word constellations on the white page.

Every word is an abstract picture.

A surface. A volume.

A surface on the page. A volume when spoken.

Gamier emphasized the necessity for a break with the old rhythms:

The rhythms of poetry have succeeded in deadening the reader’s mind.

We listen to the purring of Racine but do not understand it. In poetry we become aware of the universe–for it to be based upon the enumeration of feet is an absurdity.

It makes no difference whether FER or AVION have one or two syllables. What counts is their meaning, the space which the words themselves occupy upon the printed page,

the vibrations they set up in fact the volume which they enclose-immense and horizontal in the case of FER, infinite but with a note of disquiet for AVION

The structure of the sentence would also have to go:

The structure of the sentence has caused the same damage as the rhythms of poetry. What a difference there is between: “The tiger is coming to drink at the river bank” and the single name: TIGER!

The poet is left with words stripped of all worn out structural trappings:

Words are as hard and as scintillating as diamonds.

The word is an element.

The word is a material.

The word is an object.

For those who know how to look at them, some words possess a remarkable topography.

TRANSATLANTIQUE, for instance, rocks and seas, peaks and abysses–why, even the moon cannot be any richer in craters and parched valleys, in rhythms and beauties.

Words are the visible aspects of ideas just as the trunk and the foliage are the visible aspects of a tree.

Underneath are the roots, the ideas.

We must grind our well-worn language to dust–in other words, make the individual words scintillate.

We must do away with imprecise terms, adjectives, for example–or again use them as nouns, as substance, that is to say, as material.

But the word cannot be set on the page unless it is in harmony with the atmosphere of the poem.

What is more, the value of each word is modified by the fact that the poem belongs no longer to a flux but to a static system.

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