Professor of Spanish and Hispanic Studies Edgar Paiewonsky-Conde was an active participant in events in the Dominican Republic recently for the Sixth International Poetry Week. He delivered a featured lecture during the week, and oversaw a presentation of his minimalist conceptual poetry. Sponsored by the Universidad Autónoma de Santo Domingo, Espacios Culturales and the Fundación Corripio, the events were held primarily at the university and the national library in Santo Domingo.
Paiewonsky-Conde’s lecture was titled “Eugenio Granell and the Emergence of a Visual Literature on Both Sides of the Atlantic.” Granell was a Spanish surrealist painter exiled by Franco in the 1940s to the Dominican Republic. He was a founder of the Poesía Sorprendida [“Poetry Surprised”] movement, which was influential for a generation of poets in the Dominican Republic.
“As were many of the surrealists, Granell was both a painter and a poet, as well as novelist, essayist, and excellent violinist,” says Paiewonsky-Conde. “In my lecture, I followed the connection of this figure with the emergence of an art that easily moves between the word and the visual image, the eye and the tongue, in Spain, Mexico and the Dominican Republic.”
The week also included a display of Paiewonsky-Conde’s poetic work at the Galeria Mamey in Santo Domingo. The poet has pioneered two styles of minimalist conceptual poetry. The first, “Icons/iconos,” are concentrated poems in English or Spanish that articulate a key notion about the material world.
“Eye poems,” meanwhile, condense the language even further and move toward the visual and supra-linguistic. They may be presented digitally as GIF files or videos, and many feature movement and a mathematical precision that reveals the poet’s fascination with numbers. Poems such as “cuatro cuatros” and “number nine” dispense with the use of words almost entirely, relying instead on geometric shapes that appear and disappear in a particular sequence.
Paiewonsky-Conde’s poetry was also recently featured in the electronic poetry journal of Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Mexico, Periódico de Poesía, which included five of his visual poems: two in printed form, two as GIF images, and one as a video.
“I feel quite honored as this is a special issue of the Periódico, celebrating the 10th anniversary of its publication,” he says.
The five poems may be viewed at http://periodicodepoesia.unam.mx/index.php/4781, along with accompanying text in Spanish.