The Matrix, Poems: 1960-1970 by N. H. Pritchard ff. When I first came to Friends Seminary, Norman Pritchard was Poet in Residence. I don’t know of anyone else who ever served in that capacity. He floated about the school in a long white robe; I thought of him earlier this year when I passed through Doha, Qatar, where many were similarly clad.
There is a Wikipedia article on him, and I was sad to learn that he died in 1996, in his fifties. This book is briefly discussed there as the “only one-man collection of visual poetry. . .ever commercially published.” (Robert Kostelanetz) This is poetry which does not survive a French explication de texte. It consists of deconstructed language, flights of whimsey, and blank pages.
Here are two poems from this collection: the first is entitled PEACE and the second called OLOGY.PEACErepeats the letters of the word over and over like a visual mantra meditation.If you read it aloud, you are forced to say the word in a slow, drawn out manner.Throughout the volume, Norm devises other techniques, such as unconventional spacing of the letters, to slow the reader down and force a look at language itself.In OLOGY, the visual pattern of the words mimics the action named in the poem.If one were to read it in a straightforward (conventional) way, it would say, “A seed rises to gather nest.”
On the book jacket, Ginsburg is quoted, calling him FREE souled. He liked to push the limits. Once my friend Karen brought her music class to the Meeting House. High school kids and Norm poked their heads up from the benches. She said, ”What’s going on?”
“Sleeping in a sacred space,” he replied.