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Synergy is the key
to poetry


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What is Poetry becoming? Visual? Concrete? Digital? Experiential?

Are the best poems read, viewed, felt or experienced.

by Jennifer Kathleen Phillips

visual concrete poetry There are many forms of poetry. Some are best read while others are best viewed and in the future we may add that some are best felt or experienced.
Some think that “good poetry” must rhyme while others think that “good” poetry “speaks” giving a clear or profound message. Others may call poetry that behaves like a springboard, launching creative responses in those who share it, the best, but however it is viewed poetry like fashion is clothed in styles that affect their acceptability and/or respectability and promotion and all poetry is about communication. It publishes, records or makes visible our experiences as well as showing things that have not necessarily been seen or noticed before, triggering that “Ah ha!”, eureka or identification experience.

The exploration of image triggering and message transmition as an artistic form of communication can cause a blurring of the boundaries between poetry and art, if we can say that they in fact do have boundaries. We have created words to say this such as word art, concrete poetry, visual poetry, pattern poetry, visual riddle, puzzle and animated poetry.

The concept of concrete poetry and word art has been around a long time although the words to define it as an art form may not have been. It is believed that the word “concrete poetry” began to spread as a new term in the 1950’s helped by an exhibition of concrete poetry and a manifesto that was published in Brazil.

If we looked closely at some of the ancient forms of poetry we might see that many have relied on the visual aspects of the written language to communicate, but more recently beginnings have been attributed to Apollinaire, who created calligrammes in 1914.

In visual poetry, the juxtaposition of letters, sound and shapes may be played with. The synergy of these words, letters and shapes trigger images, sounds and messages that can be called the art of the poet....making more from the sum of the parts in a visual communication.

The key element in visual poetry is the visual nature as apposed to the sound the words make. However some poets, as I have, use their homographical and homophonical discoveries to make poetry that needs to be read and seen:

is light
light on

Performance poetry also relies on visual and oral communication. The difference being that aspects of the poem must be seen in the poet rather than on other forms of published material.

With the development of communication technologies, we can embed aural and visual stimuli into unique still or animated artistic expressions….what shall we call these new art forms? We already have words such as digital art and new media to talk about some art forms but do the words digital poems really communicate all that they can be? We have the technology to bring more senses into the poetry equation, touch for instance. What terms will we use for the touchy feely poems….experiential poetry?