The Yale campus and the streets of New Haven will literally become a poem for a few hours on the afternoon of Friday, September 27. Spelled out in letters the size of human bodies, the word TRANSCULTURALISM will set out from Beinecke Library at precisely 3 p.m., breaking apart and reassembling to form other words as Alain Arias-Misson leads a group of 16 volunteers on a perambulatory route of poetic permutations past various symbolic sites across town. Alain has been staging his “Public Poems” since 1967, when he spelled the word VIETNAM in giant letters, wrapped in surgical bandages and splattered with red paint, before marching them out onto a busy square in Brussels and lashing them to the railing of a tram stop. What will happen at Yale? It’s anyone’s guess. A Public Poem “constellates the realia of the street, people, what they say, vehicles, buildings, etc.,” Arias-Misson wrote. “The material word is only the trigger.” The Yale Public Poem will culminate back at Beinecke Library, with the opening reception of the exhibition Beyond Words: Experimental Poetry & the Avant-Garde.
To learn more about Arias-Misson and his work, please read:
“A Poetics of the Street” by Alain Arias-Misson in PAJ: A Journal of Performance and Art, Volume 35, Number 1, January 2013
A list of The Public Poems, with accompanying videos, via Fondazione Bonotto
Arias-Misson will alsobe executing a public poem on October 5 at the Centre Pompidou, Paris. Visit their website for more information.
Image above from the Beinecke Library’s collection: Alain Arias-Misson, « The A Madrid Public Poem », Madrid 1969
Beyond Words: Experimental Poetry & the Avant-Garde is on view at the Beinecke Library through December 15, 2019. Exhibitions are free and open to the public daily.