UbuWeb | UbuWeb Papers | Concrete Poetry: A World View
Mary Ellen Solt
From Concrete Poetry: A World View (1968, Indiana University Press)
Diter Rot is always identified as the concrete poet from Iceland; but he was born in Germany and, as we have seen, was associated with Gomringer in Switzerland during the time when Gomringer was in the process of arriving at a new concept of the poem. Also he was closely associated with the Darmstadt Circle, who published one of his books as MATERIAL 2; and he has lived in the United States.
Rot is an artist of many talents:
poet, painter, sculptor, film maker, graphic artist and designer.
And it shows when he makes a poem of the page. The "ideogram"
presented here is an example of the kind of concrete poem which
attempts to rid itself of the author's subjectivity so that the
reader is permitted to make of it what he will. I read it as a
death poem, for "tu" ( "you" ) turned around
becomes "ut" ("do" of the musical scale)--"you,'
translated to another state. But Daniel Spoerri reading it in
a slightly different typographical version sees two interlocking
squares which ''form at their intersection the two little words
ut and tu." This might mean, he says, "that there is
no meeting without reciprocal influences." I once showed
a slide of this poem to a group of people who insisted that it
is a love poem. Rot places a remarkable typographical design before
the reader and forces him to make his own poem. Sometimes he doesn't
use words at all and the reader is free to explore whatever possibilities
he sees created by the tension between the blank space of the
page and the sign or signs Rot has placed upon it, which always
make a form.