Concrete poetry

Concrete poetry is poetry in which the typographical arrangement of words is as important in conveying the intended effect as the conventional elements of the poem, such as meaning of words, rhythm, rhyme and so on.

The term was coined in the 1950s, and in 1956 an international exhibition of concrete poetry was shown in Sao Paulo. Two years later, a Brazilian concrete poetry manifesto was published.

Although the term is quite modern, the idea of using typography to enhance the meaning of a poem is an old one. Early examples, such as the following by George Herbert (1593-1633), are often playful rather than serious:

    MARY 
ana-    -gram
    ARMY

How well her name an Army doth present,
In whom the Lord of Hosts did pitch his tent!

Another early precursor from Herbert is "Easter Wings", where the overall typography of the poem is in the shape of its subject. More recent poets sometimes cited as influences by concrete poets include E. E. Cummings, for his various typographical innovations, and Ezra Pound, for his use of Chinese ideograms, as well as various dadaists.

Among the better known modern concrete poets in the English language are Ian Hamilton Finlay and Edwin Morgan. Several important concrete poets have also been significant sound poets, among them Henri Chopin and Bob Cobbing.

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