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Thursday, April 10, 2008

Concrete Poetry

Visual Poetry spawned Concrete Poetry. I have no idea what this means. I do know that once poets began looking at how their poem would be presented on the page, visual poetry emerged. For me, this was part of my epiphany when I created my first book of poetry in college. During a bookbinding class, I made a book of poetry. I chose the font style, the ink color, the paper, and sewed that sucker together. Visual representation was crucial in the design and presentation of the poems. This definition:
In the early 20th century, experiments in visual poetry occurred in Russian Futurist typographic work, the Italian Futurists,and in the alligrammatic" works of Guillaume Apollinaire. (The word calligram comes from the Greek "calli" and "gramma" which together mean "beautiful writing.")provides some clue to what Visual Poetry might be.

Concrete Poetry emerged in the 50's in various places around the world. Perhaps for us today, Concrete Poetry is more like using icons to represent words or ideas. Emoticons come to mind.
Perhaps a visual might help. Take a tour of the Visual Museum. See what I mean and what others mean by Visual or Concrete Poetry? One could lost on this sight as one link leads to another and choice is crucial.

In 1968, Mary Ellen Solt wrote Concrete Poetry: A World View. She explored all the countries of the world to find artifacts of Concrete Poetry. An essential aspect of her thesis is that the poet will always be in conflict between the visual and the typography. As I think about the various poetic forms I know I am slowly coming to understand this idea of Concrete Poetry. The sonnet, the haiku, ee cummings, the limerick and others are all examples of Concrete Poetry. However, these poets are wrestling with a new age and may have anticipated the computer age, because much of what I read about Concrete Poetry, portends many aspects of poetry in the computer age. Hypertext links, icons, and ascii characters all represent Concrete Poetry.

One enterprising Concrete Poet has created an engine that generates nonsense words. He calls it the Jabber: The Jabberwoky Engine after the famous poem by Lewis Carroll. Our scholars have access to programs like Flash to create Concrete Poems. Perhaps Concrete Poems aren't really a new idea, merely a spin on an old one. With computer technology available to us now, we will be more conscious of our choices as we create poetry.

1 comment:

Heather said...

sweetie, I love your mind. So this is what you're doing.How clever!