OEI's CD from issue #26 is now on-line at PennSound

Jesper Olsson wrote this essay to accompany the PennSound edition:

Audioei 1 - An Introduction

The CD presented here, on Penn Sound, is an issue of the Swedish poetry magazine OEI (# 26), that was put out in February 2006. It should be considered as the first part of an "aesthetical-archival" investigation into the sonorous range of poetry; an investigation that was prefigured already when we started OEI in 1999 - with an issue on Unidentified Verbal Objects, followed by some twenty issues dealing with a variety of subjects, from language poetry to stupidity, from Gertrude Stein to alternative orthographies, from conceptual writings to contemporary Finnish poetry - but that was not completed until November 2006, when the second part of the investigation was finished with a paper issue of the magazine (# 28-30), consisting of 624 pages, devoted to sound history and sound archaeology, to sound technologies, to sound poetry and sound art, to the art of transcribing sounds, and to the possiblity of conceiving recorded sounds as messages from the dead, etcetera. Among the contributors to this issue, one finds a host of Swedish artists and writers, as well as several international critics, poets, and scholars, such as Bernard Heidsieck, Douglas Kahn, Friedrich Kittler, N. Katherine Hayles, Charles Bernstein, Michael Davidson, Charles Pennequin, Jacques Rancière, Caroline Bergvall, David Antin, Jean-Michel Espitallier, Christian Bök, Steve McCaffery, and Christophe Fiat. The CD is the result of an invitation to contemporary Swedish poets to do something with sound, to make sound the starting point of an investigation that eventually should be recorded and stored on a CD. Since the 1960s, the genres of sound poetry and text-sound composition have been innovative and vital forces in Sweden, even though this kind of work tended to be marginalized from the scene of literature very soon after its appearances in the sixties. Some poets, composers, and artists continued their research into the interzones of language and music - and people such as Sten Hanson, Åke Hodell, and Bengt Emil Johnson found an international audience and a reputation for their work - but most writers in Sweden during the following decades, did not show much interest in these specific forms (of course, there are always exceptions). So, the idea behind the issue was, in a certain way, to instigate poets today to establish new links to this tradition, but also to re-activate it for a contemporary context, and, of course, to find even newer ways of using sound in their work. Finally, the CD was completed through invitations to a handful of poets in France, Austria, Canada, Denmark, Finland, and the US, who work with sound in different ways. This is the result, an array of "abstractions, agglutinations, anamorphisms, artefactions, collages, decontextualisations, détournements, devocalisations, distortions, documentations, dysphonies, dysgraphies, fragmentations, heterophonies …", to quote from the hyperbolic preface to the CD booklet. An attempt, then, to trace some possible trajectories for a contemporary poetry of sound.

--Jesper Olsson

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