as ex. asemic expressionism, or abstract expressionist writing / jim leftwich. 2022

Once upon a time, long long ago (20 years), in a far far away place (Charlottesville, VA), I claimed to have identified a category of visual poetry called (perhaps only by me) Decorative Expressionism. It was busy, crowded, colorful and noisy. I liked it a lot — for several reasons, one of them being the fact that I was making quite a bit of it myself.

If anyone had asked me at the time (no one has ever asked me), I would have told them that Decorative Expressionism was the exact opposite of asemic writing.

Ah yes, time goes by and with a little “luck of the research and reading” (recollected and ruminated upon in tranquility) maybe we learn a thing or two. How does that old hit single go?
What I didn’t know then
What I don’t know now
.. some other stuff in there, I know… 45 years ago… anyway

I would have been wrong.

That was back in the early days of this current iteration of asemic writing, when some of us still thought the prefix ‘a-‘ meant “without; not having any.” Little did we know that the prefix ‘a-‘ was soon to take on the meaning of its opposite, “poly-“. “Without, not having any” semes came to mean “having many” semes. “Absolutely thwarting the production of meaning” became “open to the invention of all imaginable meanings.”

It was a transformative moment in the history of all things asemic.

When Jackson Pollock woke up in the morning, he already had a lit cigarette balanced on his lower lip. He visited his Jungian therapist every Tuesday at 2pm. They played chess, drank beer, went to Yankees games, and chased the stately, plump pigeons through Central Park.
You’re getting better, Jack, said the Jungian therapist. Getting better all the time.
Thank you, said Jackson Pollock.
Alchemy of the vowels, Tantric Sex Mandala, said the Jungian therapist.
I don’t believe in The Accident, said Jackson Pollock.
He walked down the crowded sidewalk past The Tavern to his studio.
He lit a cigarette, opened a beer, took off his shoes and socks.
He spent the rest of the evening working, late into the night, doing The Dance of the Collective Unconscious, In The Painting.

That’s pretty much how asemic writing is still made today.

So, the next time someone tells you myriad hymnal nightpoets, hurrier, nebula nebula, tell them you know all about asemic expressionism. Maybe they’re living in a book by Donald Barthelme. What do you know? Empathy is all about effort. Let there be no bullshit between Practitioners of The Craft and Sullen Art.