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Structured Poetry_21st Century Forms of Poetry_webexhibits.org_poetry

Structured Poetry_21st Century Forms of Poetry_webexhibits.org_poetry

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Published by Maor Lain

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Published by: Maor Lain on Nov 10, 2011
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Visual Poetry
Visual poetry uses the page as a canvas to visually represent the themes, subjects, or sentimentsof words in a variety of shapes and forms.The beauty of the visual format lies in the poet’s ability to mark, prescribe, or record process; thereplication of shape; or the simulation of movement. It can also present the material in a way thatleads to other meanings or implications that aren’t reflected in the words themselves. As JohannaDrucker notes in her book,
,the page serves "as a vocal score of tone or  personality."Rhyme:Principally non-rhymingStructure:Varied; often visually represents the theme or subject of the poemMeasure/Beat:VariedCommon Themes:Artistic, nature, seasons, relationshipsOther Notes:
Key historical types are altar, concrete, and pattern
 No rules on meter 
Line lengths dependent on shape of poem
Visual Expressions And Concrete Poetry
Seeing more than words.
Since they first inscribed words onto papyrus and cuneiform tablets in certain structural andrhythmic patterns, poets have experimented with visual presentations of their work.Like the choice of lyrics for a piece of music, or the choice of colors for a piece of art, the poethas always enjoyed the freedom of taking words and shaping them to create a 3D representationof the entire experience. Sumerian, Indian, Chinese, Egyptian, Chaldean, and Hebrew poets all painted word-pictures with their song-poems before the Greek and Roman empires emerged, andthe Persians famously wrote and illustrated Alexandrine odes and other books with a marvelousdisplay of lettering and color.
Pattern and altar poetry.
The antecedents of today’s visual poetry movement were the Greek pattern poems (likely of Oriental descent), popular with 4th century B.C. Greek bucolic poets like Simian of Rhodes; andthe Persian altar poem, developed in the 5th century A.D. Pattern poetry represented the actionand motion reflected in the poem, while altar poetry replicated the shape of the poem’s subject.After a millennium of limited expression in Persia and Germany, the altar poem caught on withRenaissance poets such as George Wither, George Herbert, and Robert Herrick, with Herbert’s"The Altar and Easter Wings" perhaps the best known from the period. While pattern poetrywasn’t as widespread as altar poetry, it was used enough to become interchangeable with altar  poetry by the late Renaissance. George Puttenham’s 1589 book,
The Art of English Poesie
,showcased both forms. Among modern poets, Guillaume Apollinaire, e.e. cummings, Dylan
Thomas, and Francois Rabelais worked in the forms, with Thomas’ twelve-part devotional,"Vision and Prayer," the most famous 20th century example.
Concrete poetry.
With the turn of the 20th century came a synthesis of altar and pattern poetry, namely theconcrete poetry movement. It was dually influenced by the growing presence of free-versewriters and artistic movements of Dada, Surrealism, and Futurism. Both sought the same goal: to portray words (or images) as accurate, multi-dimensional reflections of 
existing intheir inner world. The most notable poet to twist and turn lines to suit the inner movement of hiswords was e.e. cummings, who breached all established rules of poesy – right down to spellinghis name in lower-case type. By 1925, cummings had turned traditional poetry on its head with poems like "O sweet spontaneous earth" and books like
Tulips and Chimneys
, sonamed for what he used to write and illustrate his poems – Charcoal, Ink, Oil, Pencil, andWatercolor. More than most committed poets, the ever-eccentric cummings bridged the ford between true poetry and experimental forms.
Incorporating multimedia.
The concrete poem uses multimedia to produce each poem in a different shape and taste. A pureexercise in pictorial typography, concrete poems can be visually depicted on glass, stone, wood,or other materials. Guillaume Apollinaire’s
(1918) served as a forerunner of themovement, which Max Bill and Eugen Gomringer showcased to the world in a 1956 concrete artexhibition in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Gomringer’s 1953
celebrated his view of concrete poetry as "a play area of fixed-dimensions." He used poems of very few words in simplestructural arrangements to convey powerful messages, such as his famous 1954 poem,"Silencio." His next two publications,
 From Line to Constellation
Concrete Poetry
, and the publication of Brazil’s landmark Noigandres group,
 Pilot Plan for Concrete Poetry
, establishedthe art/word form’s wide bounds. This came just in time for the 1960s, when Fleet Street,Haight-Ashbury, Peter Max, and numerous inner-city European experimental schools broughtout an explosion of concrete poetry.
Branching out.
Concrete poetry was so diverse in its expression that it branched into other forms, such asemergent poetry (cryptographic tricks with letters, such as the first letters of each line spellingout the title and theme of a poem), semiotic poetry (the exclusive use of symbols and images,such as Maurice Lemaitre’s 1950 masterpiece, "Riff Raff"), and kinetic poetry (showingmovement typographically, through stretched-out or narrowed lettering). Out of Germanyemerged a school specifically dedicated to concrete poetry,
 Das Konkretisten
. British poetsSimon Cutts, Stuart Mills, and especially Ian Hamilton Finlay took concrete poetry into realms beyond syntax and grammar. Poets also created works that mixed visual, sound, and written poetry, most specifically France’s Lettrist movement, from which a 1950 masterpiece emerged – Pierre Albert-Birot’s
 Poesie de mot inconnus (Poetry of Unknown Words)
, which featured anengraving from Picasso.
Expansion of poetic sources.
Over the past four decades, visual and experimental poetry have drawn from pop and conceptualart as much as from literary or visual poetics. They have also fed the ever-increasing desire for new expressions while contributing to the use of poetics in mass media and advertising. Participants have combined a broad field of poetic sources with an understanding of the ways inwhich the use of material in visual and verbal form can extend concretism. Their works haveincluded posters, broadsides, performance art pieces, artists’ books, and chapbooks. Culturalchanges, ideological squabbles, and politics fed the genesis of this new movement in the 1970s,while one of its adherents, Johanna Drucker, chronicled visual poetics masterfully in books like
 Figuring the Word 
The Alphabetic Labyrinth
. A 21st century expression has come from asynthesis of the computer and mathematics – the Fibonacci poem, with word or syllable counts based on theFibonacci sequence of prime numbers.
Poetry That Knows No Bounds
Poems take form on the printed page.
Examples of experimental and visual poetry forms are as widespread and boundless as thecategory suggests. This selection of examples showcases the visual form that poetry can take onthe printed page, while acknowledging the equally relevant and perhaps more visually excitingcolored manuscript pages, mixed-media forms, broadsides, posters, artists’ books, and poeticsketchbooks that also inform experimental poetry.
Altar poetry.
While altar and pattern poetry found several practitioners in ancient cultures, such as Persia andGreece, they didn’t appear again in the Western world until the 16th century, when English,French, and German Renaissance poets started writing and printing their poems to specificshapes and patterns. Below is an example of an altar form from the latter Renaissance’s premier  practitioner of the form, George Herbert. The shape replicates a wing – classic altar poetry.From
Easter Wings
George Herbert (1593-1633)Lord, who createdest man in wealth and store,Though foolishly he lost the same,Decaying more and more,Till he becameMost poore:With theeO let me riseAs larks, harmoniously,And sing this day thy victories, 

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