Women in Concrete Poetry: 1959-1979 is expansive anthology focused on concrete poetry written by women in the groundbreaking movement’s early history. It features 50 writers and artists from Europe, Japan, Latin America, and the United States selected by editors Alex Balgiu and Mónica de la Torre. Women in Concrete Poetry: 1959-1979 takes as its point of departure Materializzazione del linguaggio—the groundbreaking exhibition of visual and concrete poetry by women curated by Italian feminist artist Mirella Bentivoglio for the Venice Biennale in 1978. Through this exhibition and others she curated, Bentivoglio traced constellations of women artists working at the intersection of the verbal and visual who sought to “reactivate the atrophied tools of communication” and liberate words from the conventions of genre, gender, and the strictures of the patriarchy and normative syntax.
The works in this volume evolved from previous manifestations of concrete poetry as defined in foundational manifestos by Öyvind Fahlström, Eugen Gomringer, and the Brazilian Noigandres Group. While some works are easily recognized as concrete poetry, as documented in canonical anthologies edited by Mary Ellen Solt and Emmett Williams in the late ’60s, it also features expansive, serial works that are overtly feminist and often trouble legibility. Women in Concrete Poetry: 1959-1979 revisits the figures in Bentivoglio’s orbit and includes works by women practicing in other milieus in the United States, Eastern Europe, and South America who were similarly concerned with activating the visual and sonic properties of language and experimenting with poetry’s spatial syntax.
Artists and writers include Lenora de Barros, Ana Bella Geiger, and Mira Schendel from Brazil; Mirella Bentivoglio, Tomaso Binga, Liliana Landi, Anna Oberto, and Giovanna Sandri from Italy; Amanda Berenguer from Uruguay; Suzanne Bernard and Ilse Garnier from France; Blanca Calparsoro from Spain; Paula Claire and Jennifer Pike from the UK; Betty Danon from Turkey; Mirtha Dermisache from Argentina; Bohumila Grögerová from the Czech Republic; Ana Hatherly and Salette Tavares from Portugal; Madeline Gins, Mary Ellen Solt, Susan Howe, Liliane Lijn, and Rosmarie Waldrop from the US; Irma Blank and Ruth Wolf-Rehfeldt from Germany; Chima Sunada from Japan; and Katalin Ladik and Bogdanka Poznanović from the former Yugoslavia.