Bern Porter (1911–2004)

1960s: Days of Rage

Wisdom of the Questioning Eye: Five books from the 1960s, by found poet Bern Porter – Mark Melnicove. “What to call Bern Porter? Found poet? Visual poet? Mail artist? Book artist? Pop artist? Concrete poet? He was each of these, and he will take his place in the histories of their genres (histories which have only begun to be written). And while it is true that the boundaries of these genres are permeable, allowing one to impregnate another, if we look for Porter’s singular achievement, the one he delved into deeper and with more consistency than his contemporaries, it was as a found poet. As such, he is arguably the most significant found poet of the 20th century, if not all time. Found implies lost. What others discarded he appropriated and claimed its authorship. He combed through trash (often at the post office, after sending off a fresh batch of…

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