9×9 – a set of poems under constraint

As my response to the hyperlocal commission from Arts&CultureExeter I made a set of 9 square visual poems, using the first 9 square numbers, and found images in square format as the initial constraints. These are hosted on the Arts and Culture website, and will also be uploaded my social media.

Words were drawn from texts I encountered over the weeks of ‘lockdown’, and the images selected from my stack of collage materials. These were edited by erasure, translation, and recombination. The texts respond to their sources, but transpose associations to novel social and political behaviour. The impulse to respond creatively finds itself faced with arguments in favour of action, and a counter rationale for inaction. The poems emerged despite this. Contexts include the work of Louis Zukofsky, Hannah Weiner, OuLiPo, and Bernadette Mayer.

hyperlocal commission

I am excited to have been selected as one of 10 artists for a hyperlocal commission from Arts and Culture Exeter; I plan to work on a set of short poems / visual texts that respond to the limitations and constraints of the current lockdown period.

Echoing the restraints we are all currently having to live by, Mark Leahy will be creating a series of short poems confined to a square format, which will be shared on his social media. The poems draw on Mark’s readings, news and other text entering his local environment over these uncertain weeks.

Influences include Louis Zukofsky’s 80 Flowers, Raymond Queneau’s Exercises in Style, erasure poetry, Oulipo, Tina Darragh’s On the Corner to Off the Corner, and Bernadette Mayer’s Midwinter Day.