Norman H. Pritchard: The Matrix Poems, 1960-1970
The Matrix by Norman H. Pritchard (1939–1996) gathers a selection of the Concrete and Black Arts poet’s work from 1960 to 1970. The seventy-one poems collected here might be regarded, as Charles Bernstein has written, as “sound” poems, being tethered not only to the literature of the Black Arts Movement but also to jazz culture and urban life in New York. Drawing as much from the visual arts and concrete poetry as from sound-based experimentation and music, Pritchard utilized the simple tools of spacing and typography to create syncopations, vibrations, and musical rhythms. What emerges is nothing less than a self-contained system of mimetic codes that challenge modernist modes of perception and representation. Formally innovative and anticipating what Michael Riffaterre would come to call the semiotics of “ungrammaticalities,” the book is a syntactical and visual experience in repetition, stutters, and structure.
Born and based in New York City, Pritchard was trained in visual arts and art history at New York University and Columbia University. As a member of the Umbra group (1962–65)—a collective of young Black writers that included Steve Cannon, Thomas C. Dent, David Henderson, Calvin Hernton, and Lorenzo Thomas—he met with fellow members in Manhattan’s Lower East Side to read and discuss writing and politics. They channeled their sense of urgency in developing and promoting Black culture into the literary magazine Umbra. Following the group’s dissolution, Pritchard continued to be involved in New York’s art, music, and film worlds in the late 1960s. The Matrix was published by Doubleday in 1970, marking one of only a handful of books on concrete poetry to be published by a major American publishing house. His second and final book Eecchhooeess was released by New York University Press in 1971.
Title: The Matrix Poems, 1960-1970
Publisher: Primary Information / Ugly Duckling Presse, 2021
Author: Norman H. Pritchard
Graphic Design: Norman H. Pritchard
Size: 18 x 10 cm, 224 pages