I first saw visual poems by Karl Kempton in magazines originating on the
west coast just short of the mid 1970s. The neatly typed, symmetrical abstract patterns
nicely filled proper little squares. These initially elicited guffaws
from me. "GollyGeeWhiz, ain't that godawful purdy. If the utter driviality
of the Concrete anthologies hadn't been enough, now we've got a new
generation of decorationists. If twits like this guy only knew as much
about basic symbol sets as Susan did when she sewed mandalas into the
back of my shirts, they might start a Renaissance." Oddly enough, I had
seen a significant amount of what was there, but had been too
stupid to know it without something to give me a context.
Some contexts may have been a bit esoteric, but some should
have registered immediately. Some readers now, in 2004, may
not have a sufficient vocabulary of signs to understand work of
this sort, but I had no such excuse.
The magazines continued to come as exchanges with Californians, in part
as elements in the consignment system I'd set up for the Water Street Arts
Center's Bookstore. By 1975 or 76, they began to include Karl's own magazine,
Kaldron, which combined lexical poetry with his typed patterns,
as often as not billed as collaborations. In one of the typed squares,
I noticed what seemed to be a quote from Hiberno-Saxon book illumination
along with another from a Hopi or Zuni source. Hunh? Did he just make them
rhyme? Was that intentional or an accidental result of looting bric-brac from
a university library or a stack of Dover art books? I let this go briefly,
but came back to it with the next package from California. I realized that
this wasn't coincidence or quotes taken in ignorance for decorative effect,
as was common enough in counter-culture ornament of the time. Karl was
apparently using, or trying to use, a language, and his source for it
was global and apparently thorough, though all sources were from primary
cultures, or from cultures that favored laced or fluid calligraphy.
This made a nice contrast with his virtuosity in using
the typewriter, the central and most essential instrument of the
industrial world. Was this, too, intentional? Instead of
just shoving something in an envelope and sending it to the Kaldron
address with a request to carry copies at Water Street, I now started
I think Karl was initially a bit uneasy about the Greek sources for
some of the poems I sent him, but we did begin a real conversation.
The most important things I hadn't understood were
(1) that he had taken the x-y angularity of the weaver's art as a point
of departure, (2) that his selection of symbol sets deliberately favored
matriarchal cultural sources, [two points in favor of the
comparison to Susan's shirts!] and (3) that Karl had some optical
peculiarities which among other things allowed him to see the
images in color and apparently in three dimensions, even
if I couldn't. Our correspondence and then phone conversations became
active in the late 70s and early 80s. During the first part of this
exchange, I was learning how thoroughly he understood the language he
was working with (more often than not, considerably better than I did),
how industrious he was about doing his homework, whether that consisted
of reading everything he could find on knots in traditional arts or doing
endless sketches of the way pieces of kelp twisted around each other.
During this time, Kaldron also took off from its hesitant beginnings.
Taking cues from mail art, Karl sent copies out without charge, and
included the addresses of contributors in each issue. By the late 70s, he
was bringing in most of the forms of contemporary visual poetry I knew of.
It quickly became the world's only REGULAR and ECLECTIC
vis po mag. Others, such as Shi Shi in Japan or Le Lettrisme
in France were interested in promoting only one style, though they
occasionally included guests working in other modes. Lettrisme had
exerted a major influence on me since the mid 1960s, though at that time
it still favored film, theory, and sound poetry
scores. It's visual poetry was for me the most important in the world.
Although Kaldron was in part a remedial effort to restore the many forms
of visual and verbal interaction that flourished before the Concrete
Anthologies dumbed down the art, Concrete was fairly represented in the
Since Karl was doing as much as the technology of black and white
printing allowed, this gave me greater freedom to publish visual
poetry used as performance scores instead of works of visual art. In
the early 1980s, I was going at white heat with my own work, and the
room I had open for visual poetry was primarily performance oriented
work by Jackson Mac Low and others working more toward the union of arts
than the divisions of genres. I discussed
my ideas for publishing with bpNichol and we sketched out possibilities
for coordinating other publishing projects. Karl did include a couple pieces
of mine in Kaldron as well as following up on some leads I provided.
The personal crises of 1984 moved me away from poetry in the following years
and reduced my communication with Karl to what seemed tenuous notes
made with little purpose in mind. Or so it seems: upon checking my folders,
I see included such oddities as regular batches of my translations, the first
installments of meditations on the Word, a set of poems I
thought of as writing themselves, and packages from Karl, a couple opened
for the first time just now, almost 20 years after they were sent.
My reorientation in 1988 included a much stronger reliance on the
correspondence with Karl. bpNichol's admonition to me to resume writing
just before the surgery which he did not survive, and his absence afterwards
created some odd baffles for me. I had had to watch d.a.levy move toward
death two decades earlier. I'd never completely accepted it. Visual poetry
had been at its nadir for years, and there didn't seem much hope for its
revival, except as an adjunct to performance art and an antecedent to
book art, which was rapidly becoming a collection of easy cliches. With
bp dead, the world he'd insisted that I reenter seemed lonely and desolate.
There was plenty going on outside North America, and I could communicate
with peers in other parts of the world. But the performance art festivals
and other person to person events of the 70s and early 80s had dried up,
I was no longer in a position to travel, and it seemed like the all-night
sessions of talk, the sense of fellowship, and the possibilities of
cooperative projects seemed to have disappeared in the area of visual
poetry. Younger North Americans, who had seen nothing before the Concrete
anthologies, for the most part vehemently, adamantly, and relentlessly
rejected any kind of verbal-visual intermedium. There attitude had been
summed up by Kenneth Rexroth, "once you've seen one, you've seen them
all." Showing most poets visual work usually was met with the snarl "I've
already seen Concrete poetry," and often a pushing away of anything you
might hold up to them, or a gesture of rejection even if you were not
holding up a book or other example. Pursuing the conversation simply lead to
diatribes on their vehement hatred for what they had perceived, often rightly,
as meaningless cuteness in the few works they had seen. The small number
of younger poets who showed any interest were hooked on concrete, and
couldn't see past the minimalism of the anthologies. Some of the elders
were enthusiastic. Jackson Mac Low, for instance, usually introduced me
to people as his "favorite concretist." Jerry Rothenberg continued to
include me in his anthologies and other projects. But these were people a
generation older than I. Those more or less my own age had quit working in
visual modes or had moved into a psychological isolation and defensiveness.
Although I was still preaching combination of media and the importance of
interchange between word and image, particularly as the world became
smaller and iconography seemed a partial way toward globalism, it did
feel as though I was one of the last of a species that was becoming
extinct in this part of the world. But despite the lack of U.S. publishing
venues and the disappearance of festivals, the mail art network had become
hyperactive - and there was Kaldron in Anglo-America.
mail art network
My correspondence and telephone conversations with Karl became much more
frequent and detailed. At this time, Karl, who produced considerably more
than I, had something new to send at least once a week. This was augmented
by discussion of sources, symbols, and codes - about all I could supply at
the time, since I was writing little myself.
I was uncertain as to what I was going to do in nearly all aspects of life.
During 1988 and a good deal of 1989, I assumed I would be back in Milwaukee
or in Illinois before too long, and that I would either resume publishing
using my press in the former or get a new one in the latter. I would need
one to complete Clouds Over Fortjade, my main visual poetry work. In the
meantime, I got a relatively elaborate Minolta photocopier. Not only
would this machine take 11" x 17" paper, the image quality it produced
was excellent and the kinds of stock it could handle was wide. It could
accommodate a few color cartridges, relieving the damnation of black and white. I
could tinker with minor projects on it, catch up some loose ends, and use it
in the projects I initially used to make a modest living, and then moved on
to build up as a means of acquiring capital for a larger one.
The Illinois possibility waxed and waned. Carlen
and I seemed at times able to patch up our relationship, and I didn't want
the kids to have any more problems than circumstances had dumped on them
already. In Kenosha, my parents seemed to be growing more needy, and I
became more restless. I managed to get to Milwaukee for at least two days a
week. I was able to do a few things with Woodland Pattern. Chris Chiu and I
continued to develop the computer skills we'd started learning together
before my sojourn in Illinois. It was at this time that we made the first
attempts to use the modems on our computers, though neither of us as yet
thought much about the internet - I'm not sure we even knew what it was in
1988. I picked up miscellaneous journalism, commercial art, and other stray
jobs in the city. In Kenosha, I had resumed making book objects at a
healthy clip and reestablished contacts with writers and artists
throughout the world which had lapsed during my "vacation."
Sometimes I cycled. With stabilized and untinkered with meds, the
depressions didn't get too low nor the manias too intense. Neither
incapacitated me, I had no hallucinations or feverish rushes coming
off the high end, and the way I was surrendering abilities to keep it
that way didn't seem noticeable.
I did have a lot of time to read and to study. Since I didn't have ready
access to a decent academic library, I couldn't continue work on the
pre-Columbian Mexican writing systems or move into some equally arcane
field. Hence this was a perfect time to check out Karl's poetry in a more
careful way than I had before. We moved a good deal of the discussion from
letters to the telephone, and often enough I could go over each week's crop
of mail from his post office with him on the phone. During this period,
I not only got a better sense of the workings of each individual piece,
but of Karl's capacities of perception and the organization of his work.
The two are linked.
Like many visual poets, Karl has a condition of vision which some people
would see as a disadvantage or handicap. Karl gets technically classed as
dyslexic. Unlike other poets with unusual conditions of vision, he does
nothing to hide it from those who take such information as a basis for
arguing that "concrete" is a childish form of poetry for people who
can't read. This prejudice is no better than any other, and Karl has no
reason to feel apologetic. In many ways it is an advantage.
As I found early on, he tends to see black and white print in color -
something that has advantages for him, though not necessarily
for people who read his poems. Letters may move on pages of text
which he reads, but this does not keep him from reading, and from
being at least as well read as most of his contemporary poets. If
he has to hold his hand on the edge of a book to keep the
letters from falling off, he will do so. As a result of the effort he
puts into what he reads, he seems to retain information better,
and certainly internalizes it more profoundly. Unlike many people,
he cannot take writing for granted, and hence prizes it more. He
reads and works more carefully than do some for whom these activities come
The biggest advantages come from capacities to visualize in multiple
dimensions. When working on individual page poems, this allowed him in
his early work to perform such tasks as working out knotted and otherwise
interlaced patterns. Going beyond this, he can conceptualize interlinked
symbol systems and find replicant forms in ways that would be extremely
difficult for most people working in two dimensions. Like a jazz musician,
he can invert, reverse and otherwise modulate patterns internally.
Given his mystic orientation, the
ability to find similarities between different iconographies, symbol
clusters, cosmologies, etc. allows him to see interrelations that other
people might miss. This is not simply important in visual or aesthetic
terms but in the way it allows him to find connections between ideas in
different traditions and to bring them together.
Visualization in three dimensions gives him abilities to bring dynamic
patterning into images which otherwise might become utterly cloying.
In the work of his first 20 years, he constantly expanded his vocabulary
of techniques for creating kinetic effects within grids. At times, these
may convey some of the motion he himself sees. Whether this happens or
not, he can create patterns by moving between serenely tranquil pages
and pages in which image and ground constantly reverse themselves, or
conventions which suggest depths moving in and out. The eye of the reader
follows rhythmic patterns across the page or around its rectangles. In
places they follow mazes that lead back to a starting point or seem to
reach infinity by refusing to come to a conclusion. Optical conundrums
popularly exploited by Escher appear at times. In
later work done with computer assistance, he has been able to move into
areas of kinetics unavailable to the typewriter poems.
Despite the capacity for visualization in three dimensions, Karl worked
out his early poems on graph paper to be sure that he did not make
mistakes, and to ascertain that he would see images in two dimensions
without apprehending things his readers wouldn't.
The next step becomes more important still. Most of his visual poetry
opus is part of an ongoing project which he named Rune early
on. When he sends work to friends, he tends to include diagrams of
where the new pages belong in the part of the work in progress at the moment.
Initially, I think most people don't pay much attention to these
diagrams - I didn't myself for some time. Yet the conception of the
work as a whole - particularly as it has expanded over the last forty
years, has significance which goes beyond the individual parts. In some
respects, the finished Rune will have something like the character
of a medieval Cathedral. Even though it may be unfinishable, the poem
continues to grow out of interlocking cosmologic sets of proportions,
derived from sources as diverse and disparate as Asiatic Chakras,
Judaic Sephiroth, pre-Christian mysticism from all over Europe, mathematical
and cosmological proportions with roots and branches reaching from ancient
Egypt and the classic Mediterranean through Islamic mediators in
periods of pluralism. I like imagining Karl in previous incarnations
as a monk transposing vegetable patterns of twining growth into manuscript
illuminations - I imagine the Irish monks who painted The Book
of Kells spent a fair amount of time observing the way kelp forms knots
precisely the way Karl has observed it on the shores of a different
ocean. The monks too applied themselves diligently to reading difficult
works on divine proportions from obscure and at times heretical sources.
It's also interesting (and, given our contemporary cultural evaluations
and hierarchies) that he has degrees in economics and worked as a
statistician on the Apollo space project in the mid 1960s. When people use
such expressions as "you need to be a rocket scientist to understand that,"
Karl could claim to be part of the infrastructure of rocket science in its
heyday. Many mathematicians think in abstract shapes, but communicate them
by numeric formulae as a universal language among their peers.
Karl works out some of his poetry in the same realm of internal visualization
as do many people proficient in math, physics, and related sciences.
Fire + Water: A Preparatory Book
In the late 1980s, I decided that one of the things I would have to do
was to present at least some kind of preliminary guide to Karl's poetry
in general and to Rune in particular.
By this time, I was also coming to the conclusion that I would not be
able to return to printing elaborate books myself and that figuring out
means of producing large works of any sort would become increasingly
difficult and problematic.
One of the manuscripts which Karl sent me was based on doodles his wife
had made while talking on the telephone. The Kemptons grew wheat grass and
other herbal remedies for a living, and Ruth spent a fair amount of
time talking on the phone to clients and other people in the business,
and hence doodled a lot. Given the house full of visual poetry and
reproductions of mandalas and other sacred symbols, it wasn't surprising
that some of this made its way into Ruth's doodles. Nor should it be
surprising that Ruth's playfulness should give even the most serious
patterns a light and airy quality. That the doodles appeared along
with an asynchronous voice-line in conversations now lost, reminded me
of such basic examples of visual poetry as petroglyphs.
and typewriter had shared significant parts of their history, and were
both essential tools at the heart of technological society, even if Karl's
aesthetic drew primarily on pre-industrial sources. I was beginning
to see, albeit dimly, that the telephone and typewriter were being
cross-bred, along with the television, in computer technology, even though I
did not at this point know that people like us would be part of the union of
the three types of machine within a decade. The internet was still something
like science fiction - or a subject for scorn as part of the military-
industrial complex that invented it to coordinate military activities
in the event of nuclear war. I did know, without any uncertainties, that
I was becoming more dependent on telephones myself as I became more
isolated in Kenosha and the visits to Milwaukee and Illinois became less
frequent. I was involved in my first love affair that had started in
telephone conversation following an exchange of letters with a lady who
lived far enough away that we had to spend most of our time apart. Our
exchange of art through the mail proved inadequate for the kind of
conversation she and I needed. The intermediate step between sending
her art and my poetry through the mail and meeting was the telephone. I
didn't know how many amorous affairs would follow that pattern for me in
the following decade.
But without projecting my own situation on them, I did see that, most of
all, whether or not Ruth and Karl thought of it at the time of composition,
these were love poems. And love poems that depended on telephones and
typewriters rather than the preindustrial tools Karl's work tended to
retrace. They also looked forward to the world wide web in a way that none
of us could imagine. At the same time, a man making a poem out of his wife's
doodles may not get anthologized as often as, say, Shakespeare's
"Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?" or Dante's "Tanto gentile, e
tanto honesta," but they seemed an interesting, if humble, answer
to the grand tradition. That the images had resulted in part in a semi
or subconscious sharing of images in the house over many years
added to this.
I proposed doing a collection of these as a book, partly for the fun of
it, and partly as a light-hearted preparation for the much denser poems
in Rune. Karl and Ruth added some poems to those they'd already
sent me, and that pulled the book together fairly quickly. As with other
books of visual poetry, I gave this one the simplest and most unobtrusive
cover I could devise. I had had some problems in finding a good grade
of recycled paper I could buy in small enough quantities without
paying excessive sums, and the first copies of the book came
quickly from my photocopier. The bulk were bound by my old trusty
bindery, Sentinel Printing in Milwaukee. Interestingly or
ironically, they had moved from their downtown location to the suburbs
at about the time I had moved too. I had celebrated their workers, their
equipment, even their alley in verse, and had seriously injured my back
at their loading dock. It seemed we were part of an expanding universe
moving away from downtown Milwaukee.
By 1990, the year I did Fire + Water, I had been using a press name I
hadn't liked much for two decades. Since everything else was in a process
of change, and there was little of what I had done that I could build on
directly, it seemed time to change the name of the press. "Light and Dust"
was the product of multi-layered puns reaching in many directions. The most
important was that it sounded like a lost verse from the King James Bible
I'd grown up with. It's easy enough to imagine such a passage going
something like "O man, thou art naught but light and dust, disbursed by
the winds and clouds." At the same time, it is an accurate enough
metaphor for a manic depressive. On lesser levels, with my photocopier
and my laser printer I produced books using light and dust to create
images, whether they be type or graphics. A Vietnamese metaphor, "the
dust of life," was used for inevitable tragic situations, such as war's habit
of breeding of multi-racial children whom no one wanted or would accept.
In Vietnamese belief, these children should be seen with compassion,
but not necessarily with acceptance - they were as inevitable and their
problems as unsolvable as flecks of dust, whether on a freshly cleaned table
or a bombed out road. When I first got glasses as a child and found
myself freed from my own extreme near sightedness, one of the things
that filled me with awe and a sense of the possibility of spiritual
presence was seeing a shaft of light coming into an unlit room, and
the shaft being made visible by the dust it illuminated.
I believe Fire + Water was the first book I published under
the Light and Dust imprint. I'm not completely sure of that, and don't
want to spend any more time than I have to going through more old papers
than this project has already demanded, but the book was certainly
appropriate to the press's reemergence as a separate entity.
RUNE: A SURVEY
The survey of Rune I had in mind presented a host of problems.
By far the biggest was editing a collection of pages which
would represent the scope of visual language types and sources used
throughout the work, include examples of some of the pieces we thought
were the best, and give some sense of how the whole worked and what
it could mean. At this time, Rune consisted of 382 pieces of which
we could use perhaps a sixth.
Although one of the purposes of presenting a survey is simplifying a
complex work as a means of introducing it, money was the most important
factor in determining what we could do. Although Karl works on 8 1/2 x 11
inch paper, we decided early on that it would be best to do a standard
size book not only to reduce costs but to make it easier for readers to
fit it into their bookshelves. Beyond this, where to find the money was
our next concern. I no longer had a printing press to produce it with, and
couldn't do more with my photocopier than the little selections which had
appeared previously, and did not give the reader a sense of the work as
a whole. Karl and I could scrape some money out of our pockets, of
course. Harry Polkinhorn, with whom I had worked on many projects,
with whom I would continue to collaborate through the decade, and who had
supported many visual poetry projects in many ways, agreed to
act as co-publisher, putting in a certain amount of money in exchange for
copies. Ruth and Marvin Sackner, the most generous patrons of visual
poetry in the world, also put in a share. This gave us enough to work with.
I have commented on the book in my introduction to it. This introduction
is on-line, and can be reached by the link at the bottom of the page.
At the time we did the book, I had hopes that it would be partial
preparation for a full edition of the work. I doubt that such an edition
will be forthcoming in the near future, if ever. I won't be able to
afford it, and trends don't seem to favor a project so ambitious. Small
selections from the work continue to appear, however, and even though
Karl has gone through his share of changes, this book remains the work
that gives readers a place from which to orient themselves in relation to
his work as a whole. It is also a good place to begin in trying to understand
visual poetry in general. As such, it remains a major title in my list of
publications, and I would like to think that the kind of poetry it
presents and the kind of abilities Karl possesses will in time get
the credit due to them.
Developments and Extensions Since the Survey
Computers hovered in the background of the books, particularly, though
subtly, Fire + Water. Two lines of projects dependent on
computers followed the publication of Rune: A Survey.
Despite the virtuosity he had acquired in using a typewriter, there were
things he could not do with what he had, and the prospects of working with
curves was something he would not want to miss. A computer became
inevitable. Instead of moving into
such main-stays of computer programs for visual poets as PhotoShop, Karl
went for the FreeHand drawing program, and that is virtually the only
graphics program he has used since. Part of his decision has to do with
the fact that FreeHand is based on procedures that resemble hand drawing
instead of photography. His first uses of the new tech were unimpressive,
and as I more or less expected, it did take him several years of
dedicated effort create a base for himself with new tools.
During this time, his thinking evolved along with his work on the
computer. In 1994, he spent significant time in an ashram in India.
After this, his work became less syncretic and, at its center, more
oriented toward specifically Indian traditions. This is something to
parse out carefully. He has not rejected other traditions or
their images. When he works with them, he either shows more care in
preserving their discrete character or in finding their common ground
with the traditions that are now central to him. In some ways this
makes the work of the last decade more simple; but, again, the word
'simple' has to be carefully construed. His Rose Windows,
for instance, a series of devotions based on each of the letters of
the alphabet, all working in large wheel patterns, feel lighter than
many of the typewriter poems, and the concept behind them is less
elaborate, but what I would call their "simplicity" comes from a
greater clarity of attention rather than from a reduction in their
significance or their interrelations of iconographic and symbolic
At the time I published Fire + Water, Karl had stopped publishing
Kaldron magazine. What he wanted to do was to turn it over to his
stepdaughter, Amy Franceschini, and to me as co-editors. I don't think Amy
had much interest in doing this, and I certainly didn't have the money to do
it. It was something we discussed almost every week for several years,
but to no immediate, practical purpose.
By the time he returned from India, I had made my first ventures in
electronic publishing. However, these were the pre-web days when that
meant either putting up the most completely unadorned and mercilessly
alphabetic plain ascii texts in Bulletin Boards accessed by directly
dialing from a modem, or retrieving such texts through the sober and
austere ftp system. I joined John Ezra Fowler in the Grist Bulletin
Board, and the electronic reincarnation of Grist magazine, another
scrupulously non-graphic publication which arrived in people's e-mail
boxes at regular intervals. Bear in mind that at this time most monitors
were monochrome, most software had not
yet developed a graphic user interface with its icons and other graphic
features, and the majority of programs didn't use mice. This
was a time of absolute textuality.
When the web became available for people who were not part of large
institutions, it was by no means clear how graphic the medium could become.
Early HTML [Hyper Text Mark-up Language] was almost as severe as ascii. You
could not, for instance, do something as simple as center an image on
a page or specify a background color. You could have text in proportionally
spaced fonts. There was no code, however, to add more than one space between
words. If you typed one or ten spaces between words on the copy you
put on-line, it always came out with the same amount of space between
the words. Classic caesurae such as those used in Old Norse poetry
were impossible to achieve in this format. You could insert graphics,
but had virtually no control over their position on the screen other
than what preceded and what followed each image. Disk space was expensive,
and if you had to pay for it yourself, you had to be careful of how
many kilobytes each file took up. Although electronic technology
still imposes limitations on resolution, the maximum quality of graphics
files was extremely low, and difficult to achieve. Clearly, the early web
had not been designed by artists or poets, but by people interested in
such things as fighting nuclear wars and passing back and forth
information for the most dour business purposes.
It took me about a year to decide whether or not I could present a
significant amount of visual poetry on the web once I had begun my
Light and Dust On-Line Anthology. When it became clear that I could
do a decent job of putting visual poetry on-line, and do so in
significant quantity, it simultaneously became clear that that's where
Kaldron should find its new incarnation. Amy was working on the
web in other areas, and didn't want to join me, but Karl was all for
my reviving Kaldron On-Line.
Although I had been enthusiastic about Kaldron for decades, I also
had a reservation which Karl and I had discussed for years. Kaldron
was the world's premier visual poetry magazine, but it presented only
visual poetry. Given my sense of the nature of poetry in general, and my
understanding of how minority ghettoization works (separate is never equal),
I wondered if keeping vis po segregated was the best strategy. My Light and
Dust Anthology complex provided what seemed an ideal answer to this problem:
Kaldron On-Line could be accessed alone by those interested
in visual poetry only from its own menu. But everything in it could
just as easily be accessed from the main Light and Dust menu. This
created a situation that was not either/or, but both/and.
There were reasons why some visual poetry didn't belong under the
Kaldron imprint. This turned out to be no big deal, because I could
list all of it at the end of the Kaldron menu.
Initially, we thought of starting the on-line version by digitizing
work that had already appeared in the print version of the magazine.
I did a bit of this, but it didn't take long to realize the limitations
of this approach. What worked better was to contact those who had
contributed to the print version of Kaldron and to start their
sections over from scratch. We could thus include color images,
commentary in multiple languages, and all sorts of features not possible
in the print magazine's format. The print version had garnished enormous
and global respect and admiration. This helped greatly in fostering
cooperation with the poets whose work appeared in the on-line anthology.
Kaldron was recreating itself in a new medium and at the same time
moving into new areas.
Of the long arcs Karl's efforts have made since he first started
meticulously observing the way strands of seaweed knotted on the
shores of California and how that related to the petroglyphs of
the Chumash Indians who had lived there before Euro-American
colonization came within an ace of wiping them out, one of the most
gratifying to me is how much this store of natural patterns, primary
symbol systems, and traditional art contributed to the use of leading
edge tech in the 1990s.