Artist of the Week

Terry Wright's Fractal Poetry

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By Ginny Masullo

Ozark Poets and Writers Collective monthly readings, held the last Tuesday of every month, are now held in the wonderful Hammontree’s Grilled Cheese restaurant located inside Nightbird Books on Dickson Street.

Chad Hammontree just opened the delightful cafe at the end of June. The offerings include a refreshing menu of grilled cheese sandwiches, soups and salads. These are not your run-of-the-mill grilled cheese sandwiches. There is a Caprese Melt with fresh mozzarella, pesto and basil just to name one of several succulently inviting items on the menu.

Hammontree’s is a welcome addition to the poetry readings. Now you can eat and sip wine or your favorite beer while listening to the likes of poets such as this Tuesday’s reader Terry Wright.

Wright, a writing professor at the University of Central Arkansas, will read from his latest work “The Confrontations.” With five books of poetry and work that has appeared in numerous magazines and anthologies, including “Rolling Stone,” Wright is known as being on the cutting edge of experimental art and poetry, combining his original fractal art with poetry.

Declaring himself to be “a long a frustrated painter,” Wright says he was just waiting for the right tools to come along to allow his self-expression in visual art. These tools came in the way of fractal art.

“Fractal Art,” as defined by Alice Kelly “is mathematical art, literally the visual expression of equations, created on a computer with specially written fractal programs. In 1975, Benoit Mandelbrot introduced the term “fractal” to describe irregular objects, like the surface of a mountain. If you look at a mountain from a distance, you see its overall shape. As you approach it, you see it’s made up of details like ravines and outcroppings. As you get even closer, you see the details within the details, right down to the smallest rocks that make up the surface. If you examine the small rocks, you see that they too are made up of smaller shapes, right down to the molecular level and beyond. Each successively smaller detail also shows self-similarity, which is a key fractal component: the rough uneven surface of a rock mirrors in miniature the rough uneven surface of the mountain itself.”

Wright mixes poems directly with his fractal-digital art. These creations can be viewed on his Web site titled “Rooms with a View.” Wright’s work as a writer both contributes and combines with his visual art. His pieces, with and without the obvious poem imposed over the art, tell stories. This is no small order for what most would call abstract art.

In Wright’s fractal poetry he uses a variation of William S. Burroughs “cutup” method, where two existing blocks of text are run through a virtual cut-up machine set on random settings. The resulting text is then reorganized, without changing any existing words or phrase patterns into a new “found text.” This process loosely mirrors fractal theory by making something out of chaos and by finding self-similar patterns within an existing structure.

Wright, who is the only Arkansas writer to receive both the poetry and the fiction prize from WORDS — The Arkansas Literary Society, is more than a seasoned performer bringing his experience as a rock musician (he played with the Mauls) to the poetry podium. If you want a view of poetry that incorporates every facet of seeing, hearing and feeling, make your way to Hammontree’s at Nightbird Books this Tuesday at 7 p.m. Prepare to be moved, prepare to feel cool.

Open mic with a four-minute limit precedes and follows Terry Wright.

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