Essay Concrete Poetry - A Unique Genre

Essay Concrete Poetry - A Unique Genre

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Concrete poetry presents its readers with a unique and often confounding situation. In addition to using language or parts of language in non-traditional ways, concrete poetry also uses elements that are more commonly associated with visual art. However, concrete poetry is not visual art. It is still concerned, primarily, with the use of language, generally to communicate some meaning to the reader in a way that is undeniably linguistic in nature. Concrete poetry is therefore an especially unique genre that draws upon and incorporates many different concepts from a variety of disciplines in order to fill in the gaps left when traditional grammar and syntax are eschewed.

One particularly useful cross-disciplinary element employed in concrete poetry is the use of space. The poetry of Emmett Williams, Seiichi Nikuni, and Ilse and Pierre Garnier in particular, make use of spatial relationships in their poetry. The use of space can be employed in place of traditional grammar and syntax to convey meaning in concrete poetry, particularly when the spatial position of one element is taken into consideration with other elements of the poem. Another element that may arise from these spatial relationships is a temporal aspect that all poetry employs, but which becomes uniquely meaningful in the context of the concrete poetry of the twentieth century. Without these relationships concrete poems may appear as crude distortions of words on a page, with no significant sense or meaning to communicate. Therefore, the temporal/spatial relationships between poetic elements become necessary tools which the reader needs in order to fully understand the linguistically driven meaning behind many concrete poems.
Traditional poetry does make ...

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...7 April 2009 <>.
Garnier, Ilse and Pierre Garnier. “Extension 2: Soleil.” Rothenberg and Joris, eds. 309.
Hawking, Stephen. The Universe in a Nutshell. New York: Bantam Books, 2001.
Nikuni, Seiichi. “Rain.” Rothenberg and Joris, eds. 308.
Rothenberg, Jerome and Pierre Joris, eds. Poems for the Millennium: The University of California Book of Modern and Postmodern Poetry, Vol. 2. Berkeley: University of California, 1998.
Solt, Mary Ellen. “France.” Concrete Poetry: A World View. N.p.: Indiana University Press, 1968. Accessed 7 April 2009 <>.
---. “Typography.” Concrete Poetry: A World View. N.p.: Indiana University Press, 1968. Accessed 12 April 2009 <>.
Williams, Emmett. “Like Attracts Like.” Rothenberg and Joris, eds. 307.

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