Early in the century, poets expanded the possibilities of their genre by creating sound poems, by dispensing with syntax and punctuation, and by arranging words and letters across the page in new visual patterns. This book explores ways of reading the aesthetically challenging and semiotically subversive texts created by four poets; F.T. Marinetti (1876-1944), Kurt Schwitters (1887-1948) and e.e. cummings (1894-1962). The book shows us how to read these experimental texts in a variety of interrelated ways; as products of each poet's individual aesthetic, as part of the avant-garde's reaction to aestheticism, as efforts to bring art closer to life, and as attempts to c reate a new kind of semiotically and aesthetically 'open' work. The book concludes by emphasizing the individual invention of its four central figures rather than placing them in their usual roles as precursors to the concrete poetry movement of the fifties.