The Quarterly Conversation has posted a roundtable on the great Harry Mathews, including essays by Dan Visel and Ed Park on The Conversions, Laird Hunt on My Life in CIA, John Beer on The New Tourism, Daniel Levin Becker on Selected Declarations of Dependence, and Jeremy M. Davies and myself on Cigarettes.
A friend recently alerted me to a post at Geek System (“Found Poetry in Magic: The Gathering Cards”): a fellow named Adam Parrish made some short poems by blacking out selected text on Magic cards:
Art by Adam Parrish (2011).
You can find more of Parrish’s poems here. He says of them, “[s]ome of these turned out well, some not so well,” but he’s being overly modest: most of the pieces are pretty witty, especially given the limited amounts of text he had to work with.
But what most caught my attention was the following claim in the Geek System post:
Adam Parrish, inspired by Austin Kleon’s famous newspaper blackout poems, partially blacked out Magic: The Gathering cards to create mini-poems.
Inspired by Austin Kleon? Who’s Austin Kleon? And don’t they mean, “inspired by Tom Phillips’s A Humument“?
Yuriy in La Sainte Chapelle, Paris, c. 1968.
Let’s back up a bit. When did you move to the US?
I came to this country in 1952, having left Germany at age 17. My 18th birthday I celebrated on the boat a week before landing in New York. I had just graduated from High School. This was in February, and in the fall I enrolled at Newark College of Engineering (now New Jersey Institute of Technology) in the BS program in the department of Electrical Engineering. I didn’t feel I had any other choice. Having spent my formative years in post-WWII Germany, I saw of how little use was liberal arts education during times of crisis so, like most of my Ukrainian friends, I decided to study engineering. Being “technical” was the answer. This kind of thinking permeated the whole Ukrainian immigrant community. New Jersey had a lot of recent Ukrainian immigrants at that time; I believe that about 10% of the students at the college were Ukrainian. (Both my brother and stepbrother later followed in my footsteps.)
I had no particular interest in engineering as such (I hated to tinker around with things and never put together a radio as some of my friends did), but loved math, so I chose Electrical Engineering, which was the most theoretical of the engineering disciplines. I took lots of math and physics, and actually enjoyed the technical subjects more than the less technical ones, such as economics, “principles of engineering,” and even English. I preferred dealing with clear-cut issues. But there was another reason I went in for engineering. While in High School, I avidly read Dostoyevsky, and one of my favorite characters of his was the nihilist Kirilov from The Possessed, which I mentioned earlier. He, as you may recall, was an engineer. I fancied myself similar to Kirilov in many ways and like him wanted to be an engineer.