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Artist's book - Autistext : poetry before I learned to read / Scott Helmes
  • Autistext : poetry before I learned to read / Scott Helmes
    Helmes, Scott
  • Enlarge image

Autistext : poetry before I learned to read / Scott Helmes

  • Object:

    Artist's book

  • Place of origin:

    Minneapolis (published)

  • Date:

    1987 (published)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Helmes, Scott (artist)
    Granary Books (publisher)

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    National Art Library

Helmes experiments with concrete poetry, a form of writing in which the way letters and words are arranged on the page becomes as important as their linguistic meaning. He plays with letters using them as visual units which are arranged on the page to build up black and white abstract images.

The poems in 'Autistext: poetry before I learned to read' cannot be read in the conventional sense, but can be understood as 'visual poems', so the placing of the text on the pages creates a series of abstract images which still convey meaning.

Some of Helmes' poems have been created using letters made with rubber stamps and arranged around the page into shapes and patterns. These letters have often been overstamped several times until they become obliterated and unrecognisable.

Towards the end of the book, these rubber-stamped poems are smudged and smeared as if the stamps have been dragged across the page whilst empty space is filled with cross-hatching to create richly textured forms. The obscured text is sending a message that can never be read (hence the book's subtitle), but one that can still be received.

Physical description

"A Xerox book: 20 copies signed and numbered" - Leaf [4].

Paperbound in clear plastic; black plastic shelfback.

24 leaves

Place of Origin

Minneapolis (published)


1987 (published)


Helmes, Scott (artist)
Granary Books (publisher)


Height: 22 cm

Descriptive line

Artist's book, 'Autistext : poetry before I learned to read', by Scott Helmes, Granary Books, Minneapolis, 1987


Artists' Books; National Art Library


National Art Library

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