Bennett, John M.
Lapiak, Jolanta A.
Mollohan, J. Michael
Schaffner, Anna Katharina
What Is Concrete Poetry?
I don't know; but the purpose of this space is to attempt to describe it by example. I also find, from time to time, cogent and well formulated attempts at definition by explanation. Two are reproduced below.
the answer to the question "what is concrete poetry" is one of
contention. Cobbing and Mayer argue with interesting evidence of
text and visuals that this term was in use by the futurists,
dadaists, and others. it, they claim, was directly referring to
poems that turned the page into a field on which to compose with
the stuff of language but without other visual elements from
other arts. --Karl Kempton, from his 1989 essay Visual Poetry: Definitions, Context, and Problem of Types
And what is Concrete poetry?
For those who make it, a modified version of the handy definition "poetry is what poets make" would be sufficient: Concrete poetry, then, is what the poets in this anthology make. But anthologies are not made for poets. They are made for the general reader. And the general reader, unfamiliar with the practices of the poets in this anthology, will not be put off so lightly. For him there must be at least the materials to help him formulate his own definition. To this end there are comments by the poets on their poems, and biographies and bibliographies intended to lead him to the fuller body of material to which the present collection serves as an introduction. The editor's own definition--were he to attempt one--would place the emphasis on poetry rather than on Concrete. Concrete as opposed to what? Abstract? Analogies with the visual arts de-emphasize the poetic element in favor of the visual, which is but a single (though consequential) aspect of the new poetry. Yet it has been labeled (and the general reader will probably come to the book with some such preconception) a return to the poem as picture: to the Calligrammes of Apollinaire, the mouse's tail in Alice, the permutational poems of the cabalists, the anagrams of the early Christian monks, the carmina figurata of the Greek Bucolic poets, the pattern poems of the Babylonians, picture-writing itself. Indeed, the poem as picture is as old as the hills, or the men who once lived in them, scratching their histories and fantasies in the perliterate strokes on the walls of caves.
But the makers of the new poetry in the early fifties were not antiquarians, nor were they specifically seeking the intermedium between poetry and painting, the apparent goal fo so many of their followers. The visual element in their poetry tended to be structural, a consequence of the poem, a "picture" of the lines of force of the work itself, and not merely textural. It was a poetry far beyond paraphrase, a poetry of direct presentation--the word, not words, words, words or expressionistic squiggles--using the semantic, visual and phonetic elements of the past. It was a kind of game, perhaps, but so is life. It was born of the times, as a way of knowing and saying someting about the world of now, with the techniques and insights of now.--Emmett Williams, from the Foreword and Acknowledgments to Anthology of Concrete Poetry (Something Else Press, 1967)
Robotype, a simple way to build your own--check out the gallery, too.
Bembo's Zoo, a beautiful suite of animals made entirely out of the letters of their own names, in the Bembo font. You have to see it to believe it.
Not My Type, a series of Flash animations featuring a whole world comprised of type.
typo graphic illus tration, some absolutely brilliant fun with fonts and Flash by the talented folks at ni9e.com, home of all sorts of wonderfuel work.
Type Is Art, a lovely Flash interface that uses the 21 basic parts that are combined to form all charcters. When you want to manipulate letterforms on the subatomic level.
Ghosts, is digital sculpture built from text.
John Byrum's Generator Press
Brad Burg's concrete poetry for kids
The Sweet Old Etcetera is an interactive web project that sets the poetry of E.E.Cummings against an imaginary landscape. Through gradual interaction, poetry grows from the landscape and individual letters and characters become protagonists in their own right.
Related Book Publishers
Runaway Spoon Press
1708 Hayworth Road
Port Charlotte FL 33952
Athens OH 45701
IZEN catalog 2006 (51k .pdf)
John M. Bennett
Coach House Books
Luna Bisonte Prods
137 Leland Avenue
Columbus, Ohio 43214
401 Huron St on bpNichol Lane
Toronto, ON M5S 2G5
#302 - 880 Somerset W.
Ottawa, ON K1R 6R7
Copyright on all poems is owned by the original authors.
To submit poems please inquire for submission guidelines by sending an email to your favorite word at logolalia.com with the subject line: "minimalist guidelines". This site is no longer open for submissions.
Special thanks to Geof Huth for help with terminological wrangling, and to Jennifer Hill-Kaucher for being the glue that holds all my toothpicks together.
Also at logolalia.com:
Hg - The Liquid, by Ward Tietz
(May 24, 2010)
Language is broken. Some schools of poetry sit on the floor and cry about it. Others look at the pieces and say, “What can we make out of this?”
Concrete poetry is a mapping of the myriad means by which a passenger on the information transmission train can climb out of their sleeper car and ride atop the speeding bullet, leap from car to car, and sometimes, just sometimes, leap to grab the low-hanging landing skid of the helicopter that has come to the rescue.
Color, emphasis, reorganization, incorporation of visual elements, typography, photography, all are pry bars to peel open the skin of canned communication. Peek inside, and see what Ward Tietz sees when he looks at, inside, around, and outside of language.
Hg - The Liquid, #6
Hg - The Liquid, #7
Hg - The Liquid, #8
Hg - The Liquid, #9
Hg - The Liquid, #10
Hg - The Liquid, #11
Ward Tietz has exhibited and performed in festivals, art centers and museums in the United Sates and Europe since the late 1980s, working in a variety of media including sculpture, sound, performance and works on paper. His most recent work includes Hg-The Liquid, which is forthcoming from 1913 Press, and a word sculpture installation called la chasse-cueillette (hunting and gathering) which is at the Villa Bernasconi Museum in Geneva, Switzerland.
Loops, by Stephen Nelson
(May 20, 2009)
I like loops. And I like series. So make a series of loops and there's a high probability I'm going to find something to like about it.
These 6 pieces by Stephen Nelson remind me of the mind of me and the way ideas emerge, submerge, merge, remerge and demerge. They also call to mind brain scans I've seen, and turbulence maps, too.
Of course, I can't say if this is how you see the I of your mind's eye, but I would remind you that humans should have a natural affinity for the torus, after all, the human body itself is one.
Please click each thumbnail to see versions large enough to savor.
Stephen Nelson was born in Motherwell, Scotland in 1970. He blogs visual, found and minimalist poetry at http://afterlights.blogspot.com. You can see some of his work at Otoliths(2009), Otoliths(2008), sketchbook 1, sketchbook 2, and listenlight. There's also a chapbook of his work available from afterlight press.