(The debut party for The Last Vispo is tomorrow night at Fantagraphics Bookstore and Gallery in Georgetown. You should go.)

This sentence is a sentence about sentences. But it's only a sentence about sentences if you decide to play along with the social contract that every reader and writer implicitly agree to when collaborating on a text. It's really just a series of symbols with a discernable pattern. The symbols work together to represent ideas. (In our specific example, it's a self-reflexive idea about a self-reflexive idea, but whatever.) Writing is nothing more than highly stylized illustration: Memoirs are self-portraits, some cookbooks are still-lifes, political tracts are propaganda posters.

The Last Vispo, the new visual poetry anthology by Nico Vassilakis and Crag Hill (Fantagraphics, $39.99), doesn't allow its readers to make the single basic presumption—that words are a code, symbols to be received in a specific order, and not an arbitrary series of marks—that every reader makes on opening a book. As an art book, it demands hours of investigation...

(Keep reading.)