Poetry that visually conveys the poet's meaning through the graphic arrangement of letters, words, or symbols on the page.
Also known as:
Poetry in which the letters, words, and lines are configured in such a way that the poem's printed appearance on the page forms a recognizable outline related to the subject, thus conveying or extending the meaning of the words.
Her lips part slightly to meet rime encrusted goblet;
chords of Beethoven dance with rainbowed teardrops
in the halo cast by candlelight and crystal. She shivers
with sad satisfaction as a Zinfandel cascade glides
smoothly down and tongue is washed
in bitter sweetness. She feels
the chill transferred
performance of dinner for two, alone
Concrete poetry, if nothing else, is fun to do. It’s a mixture of written and visual art, where the writer has to decide on a shape/visual presentation that would compliment the poem’s internal message. It tends to make the author think about what’s really necessary to say with the correct amount of words, in order to achieve the shape they strive for. You can start with an idea for a poem and decide beforehand what ‘picture’ you’d like to end up with, and write the poem accordingly, or vice versa – idea first, which would then dictate the shape.
Either way you do it, it can be a lot of fun, and is a great exercise when you’re experiencing writer’s block.
There are certain forms of poetry that, by way of syllable count, also create concrete poetry, such as the Tetractys, which I recently commented resembled a newspaper hat, and the Diamonte, which is a diamond shape. These are forms you may want to explore if concrete poetry sounds interesting to you.
The ‘wine glass’ above was taken from a collection of poems I wrote some years ago.