Autobio Re:Graphy


Michael Peters is the author of the sound-imaging poem Vaast Bin (Calamari Press, 2007) and other assorted language art and sound works. As certain as he is uncertain of access to “the real,” he frequently tests and probes that periphery in the guise of a poet, a visual poet, a fictioneer, and a musician in a variety of old and new media.

His work has appeared in print and online journals like SleepingFishBright Pink Mosquito, Word for/Word, BarzakhPEEP/SHOW, Drunken Boat, GAFF, PolisThe Equalizer, BathHouse Hypermedia JournalHyperrhiz: New Media Culturesunarmed, HAARP (w/the Berkeley Museum of Art & Pacific Film Archive), Tool A MagazineLost & Found Times, Rhino, Spinning Jenny, Sous RatureAmerican WeddingsMad Hatters’ Review, LUNGFULL!, and Poets for Living Waters, to name a few.

Manifestations of his visual poetry can be found in avant-garde libraries and special collections, such as the Sackner Archive and both the SUNY Buffalo and The Ohio State University Special Collections/Avant-Garde Libraries. Peters is also the co-author of three books of visual poetry: Two in collaboration with Richard Kostelanetz and the latest, a collaboration with John M. Bennett titled The Fluke Illuminator. His work has appeared in art galleries and visual poetry anthologies such as Vispoeologee (Minnesota Center for Book Arts Winter Book, 2007), Anthology Spidertangle (Xexoxial Editions, 2009), and The Last Vispo Anthology: Visual Poetry 1998 – 2008 (Fantagraphics Books, 2012). In 2009, his “Graphy for the Ensemble” was included in the first run of The Paper Kite Press Visual Poetry Poster Series, and in 2014, he contributed a Vaast Bin fluxbox for the Fluxbox exhibition at Chicago’s School of the Art Institute.

Having cut his teeth in the musical group Poem Rocket, Peters continues to explore sound-imaging in solo performances, improvisational collaborations, and installations. With Poem Rocket, recordings appeared on labels such as the Chicago avant jazz and rock label—Atavistic—as well as renowned underground labels from the 1990s like PCP Entertainment and Magic Eye. Peters is also an original member of the Be Blank Consort (BBC) with a recording on Luna Bisonte Prods. However, sound collaborations are not limited to the Be Blank Consort. They include Al Margolis (If, Bwana), Area C (Erik Carlson), and improv legend Jack Wright, among others.

Michael Peters speaks Yeti.

—Maria Damon

Michael Peters has read, lectured, and performed at events in a wide array of venues, including The &Now Festival of Experimental Literature (2006, 2009), The Bowery Poetry Club with the BBC (2006) and again with Area C (2007), SubTropics Experimental Music Festival (2005), Issue Project Room (2008) with Al Margolis, The Roanoke Marginal Arts Festival (2009, 2015), The Subterranean Poetry Festival (2010), The Avant Writing Symposium in Columbus, Ohio (2002, 2010), and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago for a Fluxfest Chicago event with the BBC (2011), to name a few. In addition to a Vaast Bin reading at The &Now Festival in the Fall of 2009, Peters created a vaast bin sound-imaging installation in the foyer of Buffalo’s Hallwalls Gallery Cinema—and did not fail to install himself.

His Vaast Bin (Calamari, 2007) exceeds traditional ideas of “the book” or “poetry.” It is a sound-imaging work that is part of a greater Vaast Bin Project, featuring combinatory elements co-existing in a spectrum of new and old media—often with environmental applications. Some elements are more visual based, some more sound based, some more conventionally text-based, and other wildly unconventional. These various works can be published and performed separately or in any sort of combination, as needed, to create an ongoing durational work that is both a project and a projection for potential installment, activation, and application.

Unfortunately, many who write in the more usual ways feel that “otherwise” works are attacks upon them and their own works.  Those who strongly favor the co-existence of both usual and “otherwise” works get it from both sides.

—Jackson Mac Low

As publisher of innovative language arts, Peters also served as editor of The Little Magazine, as contributing editor to Jim Leftwich’s journal Xtant, and as a contributing editor to issue 16 of Word for/Word. He organized a large yearlong exhibit of contemporary and historical visual poetry and musical scores at the University at Albany as part of The Petr Kotik Residency, which he too, organized.

Scholarly and critical essays include “Charles Olson and Gravitational Waves,” which appeared in an anthology on Olson’s Prose (Cambridge Scholars) and an essay for Drunken Boat on composition and performance in the context of his Vaast Bin Projectas well as several entries for Kostelanetz’s Dictionary of the Avant-Gardes (Routledge). His transcription of Sun Ra’s 1971 lecture at UC Berkeley, “Black Man in the Cosmos,” was published in Nathaniel Mackey’s Hambone 19 (2009).

Peters has received three crucial residencies for creative and scholarly purposes: The Atlantic Center for the Arts (2001), where he was introduced to the work of John M. Bennett, Scott Helmes, and K. S. Ernst; the Edmund Niles Huyck Preserve, for dissertation research on ecology and echolocation (2010-2012); and the Gloucester Writers Center, for work on a still nascent poetry manuscript The Experimental Earth Research Station (2013).

In 2013, Peters received The Phyllis Hurd Liston Poetry Prize, which was sponsored by the Academy of American Poets, for poetry initiated during the Gloucester Writers Center residency. In August of 2014, he received his Ph.D. from the University at Albany. Now, in addition to completing at least three new manuscripts of poetry, visual poetry, and fiction, as well as exploring the conceptualization and fruitions of “real fiction,” Peters is currently working on a book about sound environment programming the post-1945 moment—covering the work of Charles Olson, Sun Ra, and John Cage—as well as a full monograph on Charles Olson.