Trash Tropes: Trashemic Essays by Jim Leftwich (Roanoke, Virginia, USA)

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Mail art by Jim Leftwich (Roanoke, Virginia, USA)

Here at the MinXus-Lynxus, we have had the great honor over the last several years of being the first to post works that subsequently have become part of Trashpo history otherwise known as “Instant Classics”  by the legion of DKulters and sundry dumpster divers who form the impassioned base of this anti-poetic. We are confident these Trashemic Essays by Jim Leftwich that we share with you for the first time today will stand among the crowning achievements of Trashpo. Our initial responses offered here can, we are convinced, only be the beginning of an ongoing discussion that will eventually lead to a greater understanding of the Trashemic Essays, perhaps not gleaned until after the Trashpocalypse.

To be fairly understood, Trashpo must be seen as a practice within the genre of visual poetry. Trashpo is definitely not another iteration of the post-bourgeois pastime of making “art” from “found” materials. The Trashpo Lexicon states, “Trashpo is the opposite of Minxus.” While Trashpo’s meaning is largely contextual (in this case an oppositional anti-art in comparison to the overwrought and decadent Minxus aesthetic), Trashpo does have a set of “rules” more in keeping with the practicality of game theory than the pretensions of an “artistic movement.” In fact, of course, neither Trashpo nor MinXus exist in any conventional sense. Trashpo is probably best understood as a manifestation of Post-Neoism.

Because Trashpo is a form of visual poetry, it has been impacted by the current asemic writing phenom. A corollary practice related to asemics has emerged in Trashpo: Trashemics. We can trace the term “trashemic” and a specific compositional approach to DharmaDaDa Neil Gordon (Connecticut, USA) circa 2012. Meanwhile, Jim Leftwich is generally regarded as the (originally unknowing and unintended) founder of Trashpo with a series of pieces he created in 2005. (The Schwitterspo minority faction disputes this narrative of origin in terms of some details but overall there is consensus.) Because Jim Leftwich is associated with asemic writing (a term he questions) in the larger vispo community, his views on trashemics are of great interest to Trashpoets.

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These Trashemic Essays by Jim Leftwich were included in a large package of material he sent us during the era of the 2015 version of the Marginal Arts Festival in Virginia, USA, with which he has been involved for a number of years. Other work of great importance is included in this missive (including work by other visual poets). We believe the Trashemic Essays deserve special attention. We intend to document more of the work he sent us at a later date. Here is the reverse side of the piece above. This is Diane Keys’ address written on a paper towel:

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The Trashemic Essays are innovative in the Trashpo realm because, for the first time that we are aware, they present a rhetoric of trash or, more precisely, an anti-rhetoric or trash talk using what we identify as the trash trope. Until now, Trashpo has seldom attempted to penetrate complex, linear texts or patterns of narrative and logic in order to create Trashpo. Trashpo has pursued what we call D-Khaos, which is anti-formal and non-rational. The result has been a kind of lyric intensity akin to a tiny vacuum for individual works. Poetry can be rhetorical, so a debate about whether these pieces are vispo or rhetoric would be pointless. We see the presence of the trash trope as the vital structural element here. In this case, the trash trope functions as a textual disruptor.

The emerging narrative of asemic writing is being disrupted and questioned in the essays. Notice that the foundation pieces for the Trashemic Essays are relatively linear, conventionally readable texts about asemic writing. Material text/image unites used in the composition of Trashpo are interjected over and into the texts about asemic writing to create disruption, disjunction but new possibilities for meaning as well. In these pieces, the trash is actually merged with the material about asemic writing, suggesting physical action taken against the text. Far from conceptual, we see the essays as deeply materialist.

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Here is a detail scan:

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Another Trashemic Essay:

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Many thanks to Jim Leftwich for giving us the opportunity to share the Trashemic Essays.

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