Visual Poetry

Mike Weaver

Concrete Poetry [17.7mb, PDF], 1966.

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. -- Mary Ellen Solt

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