Concrete Poetry or Shape Poetry is defined as poetry that uses a visual form to convey meaning.
So what does that really mean?
In concrete poetry the typographical arrangement of the words is another way for the poet to communicate. Just as a poet may use rhyme or rhythm, stanza layout, or wording for effect, the poet uses shape to convey meaning.
It is sometimes also called visual poetry.
This term itself has evolved over time. Often concrete poetry forms a picture, using the image to induce the sense of sight to work out the meaning in the poem.
Some believe that a ‘shape’ poem should describe the shape it actually is. Also that it should rhyme.
As with every type of poetry – there are differing opinions.
So – if your ‘shape’ poem is about a flower, it should be shaped like a flower according to this school of thought.
The earliest ‘shape’ poem known is written by the poet Simias of Rhodes. He wrote two famous poems. One poem is thought to have been written to be inscribed on a votive (which means dedicated in fulfilment of a vow) copy of an axe.
Not just any axe.
The axe which is traditionally thought to be used by Epeius to make the wooden horse that brought down the Trojens.
The second famous poem is thought to have been inscribed on an egg – of course it was shaped like an egg.
The following is George Herbert’s (1593 – 1633) Easter Wings.
I have attempted my own version of a shape poem.
Click on the link to check out my version of a shape poem – This Picture of You