Four questions about asemic writing, #07: Bill DiMichele

  1. Do you think the practice of asemic writing is something different from visual poetry? Or a part of it?

Let me start by saying that I get bored really easily; I’m 63, and experience has taught me that names and titles come and go. As a teacher my impatience reached great heights as I saw a zillion different concepts/implementations come across my desk, “whole language”, “big blue book”, “buttmunch phonics”, and numerous other teaching formats, all of them confusing to my students. But I became a better teacher when I completely ignored all the baloney and just went for it spontaneously. I don’t presume to tell the difference between asemic writing and visual poetry, I’m no pundit, no savant.  The two cross over like yarn, weaving their way toward one big beautiful mass of color and hue. This is as close as I get to defining asemics, and frankly Scarlett… well, you see where this is going. So I say just mash it all together and see what happens. You’ll never be hungry again.


  1. Asemic texts appeared often here and there over the course of the 20th century. Then, at the very beginning of the 21st, it seemed that a consistent part of artists/writers, all over the world, started focusing on it. It isn't the occasional appearance of asemics in a wider context of art, but it seems now a specific practice or current. Do you agree?

We all know how much a glyph, a signal, a letter fragment can communicate without the borders of the fascist alphabet. Imagine a hand passing through the surface of water.  At first, it’s just five lonely little digits separated from one another with no connection.  As they continue on their quest, eventually the five fingers merge at the water boundary, and we see that the true form, the hand, which we had no way of knowing before, has revealed itself.  The asemic movement is the same, visual poets separated from one another, doing their own thing, the investigation of each, isolated and alone then bang! in one way or another, the poets come together to share and learn.  A great movement has begun.


  1. Some authors think it can be said that something like an actual asemic “movement” is rapidly (or slowly?) growing. Do you think so? Or do you think there’s simply a wide constellation of different individuals, far from being defined a movement?

Paradoxically, I believe the movement is growing without growing.  There are some visual poets out there who are working in their veins, they hear the word, they have a revelation, they say “Wow, I’m an asemic artist!” So the movement grows, but only in name, since our poet was already working in what he perceived as an unnamed field.


  1. Anthologies, exhibits and web pages collect very different kinds of asemic works. Some of them resemble scribbles and calligraphy, so they fit the definition of “writing”. Others do not, since they include recognizable letters and symbols, or abstract art. Do you think asemics can include these areas or not?

I wrote earlier about my students, and here they come again.  Abstraction, accident, mutant representationalism, spilled watercolor, all possible processes gone wild.  Is it asemic? Kind of. Sometimes. But they don’t know asemics from a lunchbox. And it’s just that beautiful ignorance, that freedom, that allows them to explore. Sometime the work is so unschooled, so sublime, that I wish I had done it.

thanks to Bill DiMichele ||

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