Every new book is an abstract idea for a while: something still hypothetical, as we look at proposals and drafts, and exchange emails. When it's announced, for the first time it becomes concrete — a thing we are definitely going to do. And we are now definitely going to do Rachel Elizabeth Robinson's new book Visual and Plastic Poetics: From Brazilian Concretism to the Chilean Neo-Avant-Garde, due out in our Studies in Hispanic and Lusophone Cultures series in 2021.
We are very grateful to Cecilia Vicuña, one of Chile's most important contemporary cultural figures, for permission to use one of her celebrated Palabrarmas on our cover. (Palabras, words: armas, weapons.) This work is from 1974, the first full year of the Pinochet dictatorship, when it could not safely be exhibited: it was an act of resistance. Many early Vicuña works have still only recently emerged into showings worldwide, but they are now an influence on young artists and writers: see Vicuña's Instagram feed of the Palabrarmas for more.
We seem to be on an avant-garde poetry jag at present, having just published Confrontational Readings: Literary Neo-Avant-Gardes in Dutch and German; we included some collage poems by Rui Pires Cabral in the anthology of modern Portuguese verse in the issue of Portuguese Studies now at the printers. Avant-gardes — if that's the plural — tend to be monocultural, or at least, confined to a single language area, if only because it is very hard to translate concrete poetry in any satisfactory way. But that doesn't mean there isn't cross-cultural spread. Just as Dutch and German experimental writing played off against each other, so too Brazilian poetry influenced what was happening in Chile.