The New Concrete

Visual Poetry in the 21st Century

This book was edited by Victoria Bean (an artist my tutor recommended I look into further) and Chris McCabe and is a collection of poems created by poets who have found new ways of creating poems in the digital age, inspired by the legacy of concrete poets from the 1950s, 60s and 70s. I thoroughly enjoyed pouring through this book. I picked out some of my favourite pieces and made notes in my sketchbook about each one. I also found Chris McCabe’s discussion of different visual poetry categories really interesting – these included shape poetry, pattern poetry, concrete poetry, visual poetry, vispo and the new concrete.

David Miller, Tom Phillips, Ilse Garnier and Stuart Mills

Sam Winston and Liliane Lijn

Cecilie Bjorgas Jordheim and Scott Helmes

Wally Depew and Julie Johnstone

Andre Vallias, Paula Claire, Sophie Herxheimer and Alec Finlay with Ray DiPalma

I made some notes while reading Victoria Bean’s piece and Chris McCabe’s piece in the back of the book. I found it very interesting how the different types of visual poetry are categorised and how there is uncertainty about just where these boundaries are. It might be fun to play with each concept of visual poetry when it comes to my final project.

The book itself is beautiful! The binding is exposed behind the paper cover, which is something I don’t think I’ve seen before. It’s quite nice to see the structure – perhaps this was a deliberate choice to reflect the nature of the content (concrete poetry being a structural form of writing and art in a way?) Also, the title is embossed – the letters raised above the surface of the cover – and is not a different colour. It’s all white, which makes it almost invisible when you look at it, but so tactile to hold and run your fingers over. Again, this, to me, reflects the content. The words themselves are structural and have form beyond the two-dimensional. I also like how the title takes on an almost crossword-style layout (another visual aspect of word play).

This book has provided me with lots of inspiration for my visual poetry exploration. I like the idea of playing with the different styles of visual poetry – I might look into each of these a little further.

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