Zine Review: Mitsumi Elec. Co. Ltd.: Keyboard Poems


Visual poetry zine, Eric Schmaltz, issue 1, above/ground press, abovegroundpress.blogspot.com, $4

This chapbook is kind of boring, but in an interesting way. Maybe that’s not a good way to start a review, but it’s true. The poems in this collection are actually little visual art pieces made with a disassembled keyboard and black paint. Calling them poems is even a stretch, because there is very little that can be read; a few words and a few letters. This process violently brings the digital world into physical space, reminding us of the abstract visual quality of printed language. The page becomes a field, a space ripe for exploration. Schmaltz plays with chaos and order, alternately presenting Dionysian smudges and intricate latticework mandalas in an Apollonian mode. These pages are wry works of minimalism and the book contains no semantic content besides an ironic little note about safe typing posture and practices, hence why I called it boring. But maybe that’s the wrong way to go into it — these are meditations on the ambience of language and the tools we use to express ourselves. This zine should be approached with a mindset of contemplation, like a poet yogi waiting for the dance of the cosmos, perfect in its imperfections, to reveal itself in a quiet moment. It is compulsively re-readable, hypnotic like looking at a fire or the stars at night. (Neal Armstrong)