concrete poetry

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A term used to describe a kind of experimental poetry developed in the 1950s and flourishing in the 1960s, which dwells primarily on the visual aspects of the poem. Concrete poets experiment with typography, graphics, the ‘ideogram concept’, computer poems, collages, etc., and acknowledge influence from Dada, Hans Arp, Schwitters, Malevich, and other visual artists. Ian Hamilton Finlay (1925– ), one of the leading Scottish exponents, expressed his own affinity with 17th‐cent. emblems and poems such as G. Herbert's ‘Easter Wings’, which use the shape as well as the sense of a poem to convey meaning. E. Morgan, also a Scot, has written a variety of concrete poems. Mary Ellen Solt in ‘A World Look at Concrete Poetry’ (Hispanic Arts, Vol. I, Nos 3 and 4, 1968) declares that ‘the concrete poet seeks to relieve the poem of its centuries‐old burden of ideas, symbolic reference, allusion and repetitious emotional content’. Others claim a less radical role, pointing to Herbert, Blake, Carroll (C. L. Dodgson), Pound's use of Chinese characters, and E. E. Cummings as evidence of a long tradition of typographical experiment.

Subjects: Literature.

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