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date: 21 February 2020

Concrete poetrylocked

  • Stephen Bann


Art form developed in the 1950s and 1960s based on the visual aspects of words. In contrast to ‘shaped’ poetry, in which the meaning of a text is enhanced by the relationship between a sequence of lines and the overall pattern or silhouette that these lines create on a page (as in George Herbert’s ‘Easter-Wings’, 1633, and Guillaume Apollinaire’s Calligrammes, 1918), Concrete poetry largely dispenses with conventional line and syntax. It may bring into use not only a wide range of typefaces (see Typography) but also other elements derived from calligraphy, collage, graphics and computer-generated shapes. It can appropriately be considered a visual art, though it is also a literary one.

The term Concrete poetry as a designation for words in a spatially inventive context was devised in 1955 by Eugen Gomringer (b 1925), then working in Ulm as secretary to Max Bill, and Decio Pignatari (...

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