Stephen Nelson’s Asemic Writing

by | Mixed Media

Editor’s Note:  I hadn’t given much thought to asemic writing until Stephen submitted his work to Atticus Review.  I can recall seeing such writing around previously in art galleries or online, and in various texts, especially when I dipped into the realms of Surrealism and Dada and wrangled with literary theory and criticism in grad school, but I didn’t truly understand what asemic writing was all about or its importance and place in literature until I had a chance to dig into the idea while considering Stephen’s work.  For those unfamiliar with the concept, an excellent article offering some history and contextual information about asemic writing (and one in which Stephen is actually mentioned) can be found here.

Historical, conceptual and theoretical ideas regarding asemic writing aside, I also want to put something simple out there — in addition to all the other things Stephen’s asemic writing, and asemic writing in general, can do and does, his asemic pieces are also tremendously beautiful artwork.  The fact that they transcend this visual beauty through their ability to do all the other things asemic writing can do just makes them that much more compelling.

– Matt Mullins

Artist’s Statement:  I’m keen to explore every avenue of asemic writing, both digitally and organically. It feels like channeling. The mind opens and expands and an energy fills the body, the hand, the finger. There’s an awareness of the source sometimes, within me, or beyond me, but generally it’s a purely energetic sensation and something quite mysterious. Occasionally, I add painterly touches, or work on filtered photographs made to look old or ever-so-slightly coloured. My favourite medium is ink, however, especially through good quality fountain pens on handmade or Nepalese lokta paper. It’s an everyday practice, journaling asemic poems. Recently I’ve taken to ink brush writing, inspired by Zen calligraphy. My centre is poetic though. It feels important that a “poem” is the result, or that the process is poetic. That’s not something I can explain, but it feels like a core aspect of who I am.

– Stephen Nelson






About The Author


Stephen Nelson is a Scottish writer and visual poet who works in a variety of forms including concrete poetry, asemic writing, fiction and prose poetry. He has exhibited in several countries including Italy, Germany, USA, Argentina, Brazil and at the 2011 Text Festival in Bury, England. His textual poetry has appeared in journals internationally, including Posit, Eratio and Anthropocene Journal, and in three full collections. A poem from his book, Lunar Poems for New Religions, was published in The Sunday Times Poet’s Corner. He speaks light language, practices meditation, and enjoys living by a burn in a town in central Scotland.