vou: visual poetry tokyo, 1958-1978

Sandro Ricaldone

VOU
Visual Poetry
Tokyo
1958-1978
edited by Taylor Mignon
Isobar Press, 2022

Taylor Mignon has lived in Tokyo for many years, and during that time he has built up an important collection of copies of the avant-garde magazine VOU, edited by the legendary Kitasono Katue. Although the magazine, originally founded in 1935, had long included visual images (the earliest one reproduced here dates from 1958), in the decade or so before Kitasono’s death in 1978, the magazine became notable for the amount and quality of visual poetry it printed. VOU: Visual Poetry, Tokio, 1954–1978 is Taylor’s selection of work by nine leading contributors, along with his commentary on the poets and Eric Selland’s introduction placing the work in its historical, cultural and political context.

From Eric Selland‘s Introduction to the book: This long-overdue publication fills a gap in the understanding of postwar Japanese poetry and the role of visual poetry in the avant-garde of Japan’s postwar period. It is a highly welcome book. The VOU Club was a group of outsider poet-artists with their roots in Japan’s Modernist avant-garde of the 1930s who were an active part of Japan’s tumultuous 1960s and 1970s.…The work included in this selection has been cared for and preserved by Taylor Mignon and a handful of other people without whose efforts it would have fallen into oblivion. It is hoped that this publication will bring about more awareness of Japan’s dynamic experimental tradition in poetry during the twentieth century.