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This article is taken from PN Review 226, Volume 42 Number 2, November - December 2015.

Pictures from a Library Stella Halkyard
23: ‘The Singing of Feeling’: dom sylvester houédard’s memorial for Ken Cox
Stella Halkyard

Ken Cox Memorial

Permission to reproduce the image is granted by the Prinknash Abbey Trustees and by courtesy of the University of Manchester

On a raw November day in 1968, the sculptor Ken Cox, lithe and in his prime, is crossing a road to speak to a friend, but hit by a passing car, is fatally injured, and a Ken-Cox-shaped hole opens up in the Universe. Some weeks later his first solo exhibition opens at the Lisson Gallery in London. As the hipsters of the swinging sixties gather to get their first glimpse of his ‘kinetically powered poetry machines that (makes) words move in space as material objects’ they also feel some sense of the talent that the British Concrete Poetry Movement has lost.

Back in Cox’s native Gloucestershire in the Benedictine Abbey at Prinknash, his comrade and fellow concrete poet, dom sylvester houédard – dsh (lower case was his habitual preference) – ponders how best to commemorate his lost friend. As anthropologists observe, ‘the purpose of commemorative art is to present the past life of the deceased and establish their future reputation’ (Nigel Llewellyn). What kind of monument could speak of the loss of an artist-poet who dispensed with the descriptive power of words and turned letters into sculptures? Exploring the modes of expression employed by writers from the past, our ‘remarkable dom’ would encounter a cacophonous clamour of conflicting opinion. ...

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