In the world of visual poetry (and I consider concrete poetry to be a proper subset of visual poetry), a world famous for wildly prolific creators (Jenny Sampirisi said “One of the coolest things about vispoets is that they produce a lot of work. Boxes of work.”), there are a handful of people who are even blowing that curve. I used to think that Jim Leftwich was one of them, then I found out he’s actually two of them. Andrew Topel is also (at least) one of those visual poets whose output is prodigious, relentless, measured in kilotons instead of grams, and what makes his work striking to me is something I can’t really show here, in this format. What makes his work so downright impressive is not just the volume of it, not just the depth of the variations he pursues, but the breadth of it. It’s one thing to be churning out scads of material that is all immediately identifiable as being from the same source, it’s another thing to be able to produce series after series after series of work that is all so different from past, other present, and future work. The level of quality is identifiably his, so the “ah ha” moment comes usually after I’ve seen something I liked and then learned it was his. Of course it’s by Andrew Topel, that makes sense, now, because I’ve been wowed by his range enough times that I recognize his “style” as wide-rangingly-wow.
Which brings us to today’s offering. Below are 25 thumbnails of one single series of work that does precious little to present a complete picture of Andrew Topel’s work. But this tiny fraction of his total output does show one important thing: the way investigation with intention plows the possible sure and gentle enough that the orchids of beauty aren’t crushed in the process.
Click to enlarge the image and the mind.
Andrew Topel has been known to be brief.