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A C C E S S

A Journal of Post-Literature


KARL KEMPTON (RE-)ISSUE



A C C E S S
A Journal of Post-Literature







Karl Kempton
Harry Polkinhorn
Ruth Schowalter
De Villo Sloan














Paperbird 1987/MinXus-Lynxus 2014









Copyright 2014
by MinXus-Lynxus




ACCESS: Preface to the 2014 Edition

Of the various and sundry publications issued by Paperbird Press during its brief
existence in the 1980s, my favorite is ACCESS: A Journal of Postliterature featuring
Karl Kemptons deep square wave structure. This re-issue is essentially a digital
facsimile of the 1987 edition that was limited to approximately 50 copies and is nearly
impossible to find today.

The original intent for ACCESS, conceived by me and publishing partner Ruth
Schowalter, was a journal that would showcase work by one visual poet in each issue
with contextual materials including essays and interviews. We believed generating a
body of critical work about and documentation of visual poetry was as important as
providing a venue for the poetry. In retrospect, our plans for the journal were over-
ambitious given the tumult and challenges of our lives. Yet this one edition did come
to fruition.

The term post-literature came from my writing at that time that sought to articulate
the persistence of literary tradition (poetry and fiction especially) in new forms that
were emerging as the Age of Print receded, canons collapsed, popular culture
dominated and accepted notions of both writer and reader faded. The surmise was
that the digital, the primacy of the visual image and movement toward the global and
away from the regional would be defining factors in the new order. Ruth and I
concurred that visual poetry was a genre that would very likely receive increased
interest in the years ahead and even had the potential to replace or redefine lyric
poetry.

We agreed Karl Kempton was the ideal figure to launch the series. Like so many
others (including Kempton himself), we revered the work of the concrete poets found
in Emmett Williams An Anthology of Concrete Poetry, already at that time a
monument in the post-avant. We were also witnessing/living the emergence of new
forms of visual poetry that departed from the past in radical and controversial ways.
Kempton with his expansive vision, consistent innovation, discipline and clarity
encompassed, for us, positive elements of both the old and new; and Ruth and I saw
the development of visual poetry as a continuum rather than a series of disjunctions,
although the times felt more like a revolution than a seminar.




ACCESS Preface to the 2014 edition

Having to overcome not a little trepidation, we found Karl Kempton welcoming,
supportive and exceedingly generous with his time. The issue was assembled via
telephone, snail mail and emerging technology available. The university publications
office where Ruth worked by day (also contending with a masters thesis on Thomas
Hardy) became Paperbird headquarters at night. Above all else, we were driven by
what seemed the holy task of publishing deep square wave structure, an essential
part of the Kempton canon; and it is the historical importance of this work in the
development of visual poetry that is the underlying motivation for this new edition.

Fortuitous indeed was Harry Polkinhorns willingness to write an accompanying
essay. I had already been impressed by his sensibilities as editor of Atticus Review
then to discover that he too was a longtime Kempton devotee and associate. Untying
the knot: Karl Kemptons visual writing, while clearly a product of the Age of
Theory (in cultural and literary studies), transcends the limited purview of most
critical theory and achieves a synthesis of ideas and disciplines that matches the scale
of Kemptons work.

Revisiting ACCESS in 2014, I find Kemptons and Polkinhorns contributions both
prophetic and visionary; I hope readers can share this experience. Providing another
layer of discourse upon the original seems a redundancy. These are texts that speak
for themselves across time and space; they were built to last.


- De Villo Sloan
June 21, 2014
Auburn, New York, USA



ACCESS 1987 edition cover (Paperbird 1987/MinXus-Lynxus 2014)

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