Friday, April 13, 2018

Concrete Poetry: A World View

Mary Ellen Solt [ed]
Concrete Poetry: A World View
Bloomington, USA: Indiana University Press, 1970
312 pp., 26 x 22.5 cm., hardcover
Edition size unknown

A global survey of concrete poetry with contributions by Augusto and Haroldo de Campos, Edgard Braga, Pedro Xisto, Claus Bremer, Max Bense, Hansjörg Mayer, Franz Mon, Ferdinand Kriwet, Ernst Jandl, Di[e]ter Roth, Ladislav Novák, Öyvind Fahlström, Pierre and Ilse Garnier, Henri Chopin, Julien Blaine, Jean-François Bory, Arrigo Lora-Totino, Adriano Spatola, E. M. de Melo e Castro, Salette Tavares, Ian Hamilton Finlay, Dom Sylvester Houédard, John Furnival, Robert Lax, Emmett Williams and Sold herself, who also provides the introduction.

Available here for $90. US, or on Ubuweb, here, as a PDF.

"The term "concrete poetry" is now being used to refer to a variety of innovations and experiments following World War II which are revolutionizing the art of the poem on a global scale and enlarging its possibilities for expression and communication. There are now so many kinds of experimental poetry being labeled "concrete" that it is difficult to say what the word means. In an article in THE LUGANO REVIEW (1966), the English critic Mike Weaver, who organized The First International Exhibition of Concrete and Kinetic Poetry in Cambridge in 1964, distinguishes three types of concrete poetry: visual (or optic), phonetic (or sound) and kinetic (moving in a visual succession). And he sees individual poems within these three classifications as related to either the constructivist or the expressionist tradition in art. The constructivist poem results from an arrangement of materials according to a scheme or system set up by the poet which must be adhered to on its own terms (permutational poems). In the expressionist poem the poet arranges his material according to an intuitive structure. Weaver's definitions and classifications are most clarifying when applied generally; but when we are confronted with the particular text or poem, we often find that it is both visual and phonetic, or that it is expressionistic as well as constructivist. It is easier to classify the kinetic poem because it incorporates movement, usually a succession of pages; but it is essentially a visual poem, and its words are, of course, made up of sounds. We need only to look at Emmett Williams kinetic book SWEETHEARTS to see that it is possible to incorporate everything we have said about concrete poetry in this paragraph in one poem. Often concrete poems can only be classified in terms of their predominating characteristics."
- Mary Ellen Solt, Introduction

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