Sylvester Houédard

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Dom Sylvester Houédard
Born(1924-02-16)16 February 1924
Died15 January 1992(1992-01-15) (aged 67)
Known forpoetry, concrete poetry, literary criticism, theology, translation, spirituality

Dom (Pierre-)Sylvester Houédard (16 February 1924 – 15 January 1992), also known by the initials dsh, was a Benedictine priest, theologian and noted concrete poet.


Born on Guernsey, Houédard was educated at Jesus College, Oxford.[1] He served in British Army Intelligence from 1944 to 1947, and in 1949 joined the Benedictine Prinknash Abbey in Gloucestershire, being ordained as a priest in 1959.[1][2]

Concrete poet[edit]

Houédard was a leading exponent of concrete poetry, with regular contributions to magazines and exhibitions from the early 1960s onward.[1] His elaborate, typewriter-composed visual poems ("typestracts") were scattered across many chapbooks, including Kinkon (1965) and Tantric Poems Perhaps (1966).[3] Among his best-known works is the poem "Frog-Pond-Plop", his English rendition of a zen haiku by Matsuo Bashō.[2][3]

Bible translator[edit]

Houédard became literary editor of the Jerusalem Bible in 1961.[1]

Other interests[edit]

Houédard cultivated an interest in multiple religious traditions; he wrote commentaries on Meister Eckhart and was a founder-member of the Eckhart Society, as well as an honorary fellow of the Muhyiddin Ibn 'Arabi Society.[4] He published a fair amount of literary criticism, often with eccentric typography,[3] and corresponded widely with leading poets, artists, theologians and philosophers of the day, including Robert Graves, Edwin Morgan, Allen Ginsberg, William S. Burroughs, Jack Kerouac, Mark Boyle, John Blofeld, Michael Horovitz and Ian Hamilton Finlay.[2] dom sylvester houedard (dsh) collaborated with Filpino poet and artist David Medalla in a modern ballet entitled The Yellow Wrinkled Pea, inspired by the life and scientific discoveries of the monk Gregor Johann Mendel; the modern ballet, choreographed by Medalla, was performed in 1967 by members of the Exploding Galaxy at Middle Earth in Covent Garden, London, in 1967. dsh contributed a poem to Signals, the avant-garde newsbulletin by Medalla in the sixties. dsh, Medalla and Antonio Sena exhibited together at the Lisson Gallery in London in 1967. Medalla curated the first solo exhibition by dsh in 1976 at Artists for Democracy's Fitzrovia Cultural Centre, 143 Whitfield Street, London.


  1. ^ a b c d British Council website
  2. ^ a b c Archives Hub: dom silvester houédard Papers
  3. ^ a b c Richard Kostelanetz, H. R. Brittain: A Dictionary of the Avant-Gardes, p. 291
  4. ^ Beshara Publications author info

Further reading[edit]

  • Rawsthorn, Alice (December 16, 2012). "The Eccentric Monk and His Typewriter". The New York Times. Article about Houédard noting a recent volume: Simpson, Nicola, ed. (2012). Notes from the Cosmic Typewriter: The Life and Work of Dom Sylvester Houédard. London: Occasional Papers. ISBN 978-0-9569623-3-1. This book incorporates several essays and images of Houédard's art.