Bryony Gillard: An Exploration of Verbivocovisual Borders and Margins

Advisor/tutor: Alena Alexandrova
Independent reviewer: Maria Fusco
July 2015


An Exploration of Verbivocovisual Borders and Margins examines the lack of female voices in concrete poetry, an art and writing practice, emerging in the mid-1950’s, that antagonises spatial, temporal, acoustic, visual and semantic properties of language. Focusing particularly on the work of one concrete poet, Mary Ellen Solt, this thesis will reflect upon the marginality of women within the genre and some of possible causes for their exclusion. Considering strategies for writing the feminine and Hélène Cixous’s l’Écriture féminine,

An Exploration of … imagines a space for a female concrete poetry outside of phallogocentricism.


BG’s thesis peers at words that cannot be seen; words that are behind history; literary cadavers that have compressed to glass.

Entitled An Exploration of Verbivocovisual Borders and Margins and staying close to the work of one, partially visible, concrete poet Mary Ellen Solt, BG makes the case that concrete workers of the poetic kind have been phallogocentrically historicized to the almost complete exclusion of women. BG incites the feminine marginal as the most exact position of criticality precisely because of its absence from canonical approval: the most fertile female organs are, after all, on the inside.

For BG, Solt’s calligraphic work is a self-reflexive interrogation on the rules of communication, providing a complex coda to comprehension. BG’s thoughts are most active on the page when she enacts her “verbivocovisual map of positions” in the form of a poem, for here is where she divorces source and accelerates towards form.

Swirling. Speeding. Stumbling. Descending = BG really means what she is saying.