Shaped Poetry | Concrete Poetry | Visual Poetry
What does it mean?
What is Shape Poetry you ask? Well, shaped poetry is a form of writing poetry, where the words are written down in such a way that it visualizes a shape. It can be any shape, but mostly the shape in which a poem is written, adds to the content and meaning of the poem.
I’ve written a few shaped poems myself, which I will show you here, but I started this article mainly to show you the shaped poetry of my best and dearest poet friend Marge Tindal who – way too soon – passed away on January 26, 2009. I still miss her terribly.
Marge had her own style of writing poetry and a great part of that, was writing shape poetry. Shaped Poetry is also referred to as: Concrete Poetry, which is even more abstract.
Marge’s poems were mostly connected to the full moon, which she loved very much. She had a flair and wit in her writings that really deserves this little tribute.
Writing shaped poetry is fun to do, but I myself never took the time to go beyond the basics. However I found someone on the internet who did a marvellous job on concrete poetry and I got permission to show you one called “Shop O Holic”.
I’ll show you the HOW TO and then you can try it yourself on those cold and dark winter nights.
Copyright: text and photo’s/poems, if not mentioned otherwise: Titia Geertman
Marge Tindal left a legacy of beautiful poetry of which her daughter now is the copyright holder. Marge’s daughter has given me full permission to use Marge’s shaped poems for this article as well as she has given me permission to bundle them all in a book which I made 4 years ago in honour of her mom. The book is called: ‘In Loving Memory – Marge Tindal’ and you can find it by clicking the link below.
None of the pictures and/or poems in this article may be used in any way, without the permission of the copyright holder
What are Shaped Poems
A shaped poem is a poem that has a visual shape
In a Shaped Poem, the shape in which the poem is written is as important as the written words are, they are each others component. I mean, you don’t write a shaped poem about a cat in the shape of an apple, unless the cat and the apple have a connection somehow, which should become clear when reading the words.
The form of the poetry is rather old, like the one in the picture is from “Easter Wings” written by George Herbert’s in 1633. It was printed sideways on two pages, so it would seem that two birds were flying straight up. The term ‘Concrete Poetry’ was established in 1950. In 1956 a Concrete Poetry Exhibition was held in São Polo in Brazil.
Another earlier example can be found in ‘Alice in Wonderland’. There you see that the ‘Tale’ of the mouse, is written in the form of a mouse’s tail. The Mouse’s Tale.
How to write a Shape Poem – Videos from Youtube
Naturally artists have taken the original shaped poetry to different levels and with the modern use of video and photography it has almost become a visual art form. At one time Shaped Poetry, Concrete Poetry and Visual Poetry were each others synonyms, but have since gone their own path in the world of Art.
Shaped Poetry = poetry written in a shape, it’s more or less static – still a poem
Concrete Poetry = poetry that expands into an interaction between words and shapes – still recognizable as a poem
Visual Poetry = poetry where the shape almost and sometimes often have taken over the words. – only fragments of words if any
Interesting to see how art develops over time.
Some interesting books about Concrete Poetry. Just click the picture to explore.
Tender Merci – a poetical prayer by late Marge Tindal
As you can see, Marge ‘shaped’ the words of her poem into a cross, which form relates to the content of the poem very well. It might seem easy to do, but take it from me, it’s not. You not only have to watch the space (the outer lines), but also the font it is written in. Each font has it’s own space and should these words be written in another font, it will not come out so nice and clean as it is in this font. Had she used another font, she would’ve had to come up with other words.
Shaped Poems – Wine Glass – Written by Titia Geertman
I was a member of a poetry website and I wrote this poem in response to a poem, another poet had written to Marge. LOL means ‘Laughing Out Loud’. There may be a grammar mistake here or there, it was written a long time ago and English is not my native language. I’ve learned a lot since then.
Shaped Poems – a Poetic Challenge – My Cup of Tea
At another poetry site, we held individual challenges. It was fun to do and very inspiring. This one was about wether poems should still rhyme or rather be written in free verse (= not rhyming). The big challenge was that we were given 6 lines of rhyming words and we had to use at least one (but could be more) of each line and use them as end words in our poem.
The given words were:
1. more, before, chore, your, soar, wore, adore implore
2. glow, snow, flow, slow, woe, ago, so, bestow
3. lie, goodbye, why, deny,defy, reply, fly, sky
4. dream, beam, deem, scheme, scream, redeem, esteem, scene
5. depart, start, chart, heart, smart, impart, Descartes, dart
6. clean, green, between, been, keen, lean, mean, queen
I’ve bolded the ones I took for my poem.
Few videos on Concrete Poetry.
Shop O Holic – A Perfect Concrete Poem
While doing some research on my subject Shaped Poetry, I came across some really nice Concrete Poetry, written by Rajlakshmi. I was very pleased to get permission to show it here in my article, because it illustrates so well what Shaped Poetry is. Thank you Rajlakshmi. You can find more of her beautiful poems in my interview with a concrete poet.
Visual Poetry goes a step further. It hardly uses the written word as it still is in shape poetry or concrete poetry, but when if it does use text, it’s subsidiary to the image.
Visual poetry often makes use of the modern media, like video, photography, film and it even can include music.
I’ve never done it, too complicated for my old brain, but I do like to see what others make of it.
Full Moon in Shaped Poetry
Full Moons are gorgeous, Marge fell in love every month
Marge was just in love with full moons and she grew the habbit of writing (mostly shaped) poetry each month, when the moon was shining in full array.
First it was just text, later on when she got her digital camera, she took pictures of full moons and wrote her little shaped poems, for which we were waiting each and every month.
From the beginning of my adventure of writing poetry in the English language, Marge has been my everlasting teacher. She gently pointed out my grammar mistakes and taught me how to do it the right way. Between us a deep friendship grew slowly and it felt like we had known each other all our lives.
Twelf years ago there was a poets meeting in New Port Richie, near Tampa in Florida. I was so fortunate to be able to attend that meeting and I spent a whole 3 weeks travelling from poet to poet to finally meet 16 of them in Tampa. I wrote an article about that trip, you’ll find it below. Meeting Marge in real life has made our friendship only stronger. I loved that gal to pieces. Not only for her poetry, but Marge had the biggest heart on earth.
Marge was of Cherokee descent and she wrote beautiful American Native Poetry which she published in this book Out of the Whispering Winds
Below you’ll find a few of her Moon Poems and we used to call her Moon Lady.