Bob Brown

Source: Connexions

Frederick Moody and Craig Saper have put a scanned facsimile and transcription of Bob Brown’s Words online on Connexions. Words was published by Hours Press in 1931 in a very limited run of 150 copies. Saper has also brought out Words in a paper version published by Rice University Press.

We learned about this development from Al Filreis, who shares his excitement on his frequently updated blog.

A few years ago, Sagetrieb published an article on Bob Brown by Craig Dworkin, “‘Seeing Words Machinewise’: Technology and Visual Prosody” (Sagetrieb 18.1).

Dworkin begins his article with an epigraph from Brown:

Writing has been bottled up in books since the start. It is time to pull out the stopper.

The article focuses on one of the ways that Brown tried to pull out that stopper— a “reading machine” allowing poets to collaborate in the creation of texts, called “readies.” The readies, Dworkin explains, “are a relatively rare moment of visually based writing aimed at ‘carrying the word to the eye,‘” as Brown saw it. The results were eventually gathered in an anthology, Readies for Bob Brown’s Machine (1931).

While the readies “reflect the male modernists’ often literal phallocentrism and its exceedingly bizarre physiological equation of sperm and spinal fluid,” Dworkin’s overall interest in them is to return attention to their “formally progressive presentation…which still seems remarkable today.” It would seem from their reprint of Brown’s Words that Moody and Saper concur with Dworkin.

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