Monday, February 9, 2009

Visual Poetry: 1

There are many good anthologies of visual and concrete poetry. But there are four anthologies from the 60s which I return to time and again. These four, listed on the sidebar, strike a balance between the visual and the literary. That is to say that the locus of the poem is textual and that the visual expands from there.

Perhaps the book most immediately accessible to someone not familiar with the field is Mary Ellen Solt’s Concrete Poetry: A World View. For a view of language taken out of context and placed without referent on the page, Bern Porter’s Found Poems is without peer.

Much contemporary work uses a painterly approach to word and alphabet. This is especially true of poets working in Photoshop and 3-D programs. For a good introduction to what is going on these days go to poetry foundation. There you will find a knowledgeable introduction by the editor, Geof Huth, followed by one poem each by twelve visual poets.

—And, not so incidentally, one of the featured poems, Ping Pong, was written by me. And note I use the word “written” as opposed to drawn, painted, or constructed.

The original version of Ping Pong was printed letterpress from handset Bauer Bodoni Bold and Prisma, both considered a rarity by those who collect metal type.

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