Posts Tagged 'Concrete Poetry'

Calligrams & Concrete Poetry

A calligram is a word or phrase in which the design of the text is arranged to create a visual image that expresses the meaning of the words. For example, the below piece on the right (by Low-Commitment Projects) integrates words that describe a flamingo (leg, long neck, pink) into a recognizable shape that mimics the bird.

 

Similarly, concrete poetry, an experimental literary style that gained prominence in the 1950s, also heavily relies on the aesthetics and visual design of the words used in a piece of writing to impart overall meaning to the work. In this respect, language is image, and the physical material from which the poem or text is made is just as vital to the meaning of the work as the words that are chosen. The poem becomes an object, and the poet an artist.

During their first DMA visit of the new school year, our Booker T. Washington Learning Lab students investigated the concepts of calligrams and concrete poetry. As senior visual art students, they are understandably comfortable expressing themselves through purely visual means. But with this exercise, we wanted to challenge the students to expand their avenues of communication, and explore this hybrid visual/literary method as an alternative way to express themselves and provide insight into their personal and artistic interests.

The calligrams the students created were quiet varied, taking the shapes of animals, pop culture icons, people, and even geometric and natural forms. Getting to know the students through this unique introduction helped us as educators gain insight into their artistic and personal modes of expression, and (we hope) provided them with useful self-reflection as well. We’ll be working with these students all year long as part of our Learning Lab class partnership, so stay tuned for more exciting things to come from this group of creatives!

Danielle Schulz
Teaching Specialist

BooksmART: John Grandits @ the DMA

John Grandits is a very funny man, and he’s coming to the DMA!  If you’ve found that sonnets, ballads, and Roman epics are too heavy for you, Mr. Grandits is here to make poetry downright concrete.  If that sounds intimidating, it’s not—poetry can be a lot of fun.  Grandits is a concrete poet, and he’s the author of two immensely enjoyable (and highly acclaimed) books for kids: Technically, It’s Not My Fault and Blue Lipstick.  If you’re tired of Times New Roman and typing left to right, this is your kind of poetry.  Grandits’ poems move in squiggly lines, travel up and down, and create pictures on the page.  He uses fonts, shapes, textures, colors, and sometimes even motion. 
 
If you would like to get a sense of his work, visit his Web site.  It’s full of quirky photos, playful type, and a great poem about a beleaguered snake.  If you’d like to do a little research, check out his books at the Dallas Public Library.  John Grandits will be at the Museum March 18-20, a fantastic opportunity to learn about his work.  Visit the Web site to learn about all the events Arts & Letters Live has planned for John Grandits’ visit to the DMA.
Justin Greenlee
McDermott Intern, Learning Partnerships Department

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