There are those who will tell you that concrete poetry is a dead end, ultimately rejected by everyone who ever worked in it. I know, personally, many of those people who would tell you that, and even count a few of them as my friends. But I don't agree. In many ways (but not all, it's an imperfect analogy that could easily be turned against me) concrete poetry is like AOL. If I had a dollar for every time someone said AOL was going out of business, I'd be a rich man today. The reports of the demise of both have been greatly exaggerated.
I would agree that as a be-all and end-all of poetics concrete poetry is a dead end. But I think that's true of any sub-category, by definition. No component will ever be the whole. No tool will ever be the box. Poets have been practicing some form of concrete poetry for as long as poetry has had a visual aspect to be leveraged, and there is no reason to expect it to be otherwise until poetry no longer has a visual aspect. Concrete isn't a school (though it was a school at a point in history), like "L=A=N=awfuckit" (as Karl Young has called it) or Black Mountain or Tish or any of the other schools. It's a technique, it's a tool, it's in the same category as alliteration or metonymy or hyperbole.
There appears to be a strong link between digital poetries and concrete poetry because they are both rooted in the visual. Most poetries can be, and have been, ported over into the digital domain without fanfare. Concrete gets singled out for special mention because concrete augments and is augmented by the digital. They increase each other.
I am as pleased as pleased can be to bring you 13 pieces by one of my favorite poets in any medium. Marko Niemi is the quintessence of minimalist, concrete, programmer, poet, and pacesetter.
Marko Niemi is a translator, drop-out mathematician, poetry engineer and editor of Nokturno. He has written digital poetry since the year 2000, and has presented his digital works in Denmark, Estonia, Finland and Sweden. In recent years, he's been an active member in the poetry society Nihil Interit, which publishes Tuli&Savu magazine, books of poetry, Tuli&Savu Net and Nokturno websites, and organizes various events in Helsinki and elsewhere.
12 Digital Poems at UnlikelyStories.org
a as in dog (with Dan Waber)
Concrete Stir Fry Poems
Julia Sets of Letters
Four animated mathematical visual poems
A game version of the Tower of Hanoi poem "I år skall alla vinna högsta vinsten" by John Swedenmark