After a troubled childhood, Amelia married Louis Etlinger in her early twenties, and had 3 daughters . At the age of 29 she started writing short stories and in her early thirties , after discovering the poetry of Edward Estling Cummings, began writing visual poetry. By the 1970’s, her poetry had evolved away from words as the primary medium and she began writing her poetry in her language of threads.
By the early 1970’s Etlinger was corresponding with Eugene Grominger, Ugo Carrega, Mirella Bentivoglio, Mary Ellen Solt, Emmett Williams, Paul de Vrees, Ellen Marie Helinka [Bissert] and Mike Belt and her work was being exhibited internationally. In 1974, she had her first solo exhibition in Italy with the help of Ugo Carrega. In 1976 Etlinger won the Fels award for her poems and interview in 13th Moon. In 1978 she was included in Mirella Bentivoglio’s exhibition Materialization of Language for the XXXIX Biennale di Venezia.
In 1987, Amelia took her own life.
Amelia Etlinger was relatively unknown in the United States during her lifetime, but her work has been exhibited widely internationally, and most notably in Italy, where it was well received by concrete theorists and the Italian Visual Poetry community.
Her works are kept in prestigious Institutions such as the New York Public Library, the Getty Museum (USA) and MART (Italy) Recently her works have been shown in private galleries (Galleria dell’Incisione in Brescia, Osart Gallery in Milan, Gramma_Epsilon Gallery in Athens) and institutional locations (MART and FM Centro per l’Arte Contemporanea, Kunst Merano Arte)
“She achieved this in two ways: by hiding and blurring boundaries. The untraceable tracks of written words are hidden within her visual poems which are composed of knots, sequins, scraps of food, or dried seeds.
Etlinger uses the language of natural and artificial materials, codified and uncodified symbols and combines them all into packet poems. The envelope she sends becomes her epitaph, and the metamorphosis is in our ability to receive.
The package opens, the path turns back on itself, and the contents, made up of uncertain layers, become visible.”