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Concrete Poetry

Broadly defined, concrete poetry is poetry in which the visual presentation of a poem creates a major part of the poem's meaning. By that definition, concrete poetry includes works from certain Classical and Renaissance poems (including, famously, George Herbert's " Easter Wings") to contemporary online compositions such as Dan Waber's "Arms."

Many writers and critics apply the phrase "concrete poetry" only to a much narrower range of works, such as a school of visual poetry produced primarily in the 1950s and 60s by artists who emphasized extreme originality, uniqueness of structure, and abstraction of form. In these poems, words function as suggestive visual markers, not as components of conventional sentences.

As you can see in the introduction to Mary Ellen Solt's Conrete Poetry: A World View, the English critic Mike Weaver in 1964 distinguished three types of concrete poetry: "visual (or optic), phonetic (or sound) and kinetic (moving in a visual succession)." Among all these different definitions, however, as Solt points out, "there is a fundamental requirement which the various kinds of concrete poetry meet: concentration upon the physical material from which the poem or text is made."

Solt's book is published on (by far) the leading internet archive of concrete poetry by any definition: UbuWeb.

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