Concrete, Visual, and Comic Poetry

After stumbling across the unique idea of poetry comics and briefly writing about it at the end of my post on Arthur Rimbaud, I became so intrigued that I simply had to dig deeper into the visual world where poetry and art intercept.

The two major forms to be discussed will be visual and concrete poetry, which are sometimes used interchangeably. Comic poetry will also make an appearance because I find it fascinating. What are we waiting for? Let’s get started!

Concrete Poetry

Concrete poetry, also called pattern or shape poetry, uses the typographical arrangement of words to convey the conventional elements of a poem, like the meaning of words, rhythm, rhyme, etc.

Anyone who read my post on E.E. Cummings might think this sounds somewhat familiar. Cummings was known for his typographical innovations, although I’m not quite sure we can say he fully crossed the line into concrete poetry.

Cummings poetry actually preceded concrete poetry, as well as various other poetic works dating back hundreds of years that resembled concrete poetry.  The term “concrete poetry”, however, was not coined until 1956.

A great example of concrete poetry and an early precursor is George Herbert’s poem “Easter Wings” printed in 1633.

It was printed sideways on two pages and stylized to look like a bird’s outstretched wings.

Another much more modern example is the concrete poem “Bye” by Anatol Knotek.


Or is it visual poetry? Knotek describes himself as an artist, visual poet and concrete poet. The lines are often blurred between visual and concrete poetry. And at what point does poetry become art? For instance, the title picture at the top of the post is “eaten art” banana (2013) also by Knotek. It’s clearly art, but is it visual poetry? Let’s define visual poetry.

Visual Poetry

Visual poetry is the visual arrangement of text, images and symbols to convey the intended effect of the work. It is an intermingling of art and poetry. Confusion arises as it is sometimes referred to as concrete poetry.

There is a debate as to the true differences between visual and concrete poetry, if any. One view is that visual poetry transcended into a more visual form where the visual elements surpass typographic elements in importance.

Others make no distinction between visual and concrete poetry. (See this site here.)

Looking at more work by knotek, we can see the visual aspect triumphing over the words.

amper s and
Amper s and

Crossing the line even further into art, we see creations that Knotek calls “text-objects”. Visual poetry or full-blown art? Mistapes (2014):


His work is fascinating and definitely worth checking out more of it. Unfortunately, this is leaving me even more confused about what is poetry. The extremely modern and innovative form of visual poetry is bringing art and poetry together. And that’s awesome!

There will always be disagreements about what counts as poetry (like song lyrics? Future post foreshadowing perhaps…) but I don’t think any of it really matters. If an artist chooses to call his or her work poetry shouldn’t we accept it as such?

Visual poetry, concrete poetry, and any other type of poetry is just another branch of the amazing world of art and literature.

More info and sources here!! 1 2 3

Whoa, wait a minute! We didn’t even get to poetry comics yet! Check out the end of my other post here to get some more info and examples on poetry comics. In this post I’ll discuss a slightly different variation of poetry comics.

Poetry Comics

Just like visual poetry, poetry comics are blurring the lines between art and poetry. One artist (poet?) is creating work like this: source.

This is a much different take than Julian Peters‘ work, which took already existing poems and made a sort of comic strip to tell the story of the poem.

Check out artist and poet Bianca Stone’s site here to see a different but equally awesome take on poetry, art, and comics.

And see articles here and here to learn more!


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