"The role of today's visual poet is to carry on in the tradition of the Indian vedic poets, the Zen Buddhists, poets Chuang Tzu and William Blake, and the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein, who each attempted to explode our familiar language patterns so we can see clearly and directly. Only then can we recognize the limits imposed by language. We artists must expose the falsity of the nalytical, linear world view that our language enforces. Visual poetry can provide the jolt necessary for us to cut through the conceptualizations of language and to experience the transcendence of The Word."
- Carol Stetser, The Color of Three
Concrete poetry can point to ideas, true or false, that might embrace non-linear and non-analytical views about the world. Its range of expression of ideas and images is more constrained; trying to do more with less. Even with a more limited palette for communication, it can also express paradox, non-sequiturs, irrationality, puzzling examples, and meaninglessness in creative arrangements of words and letters; but, as with conventional poetry, which has a more powerful and varied range, concrete poems may also raise the bar of clear and robust communication. The best poems, concrete or not, all produce that "jolt" of awareness and insight that reveals some important, to the reader, aspect of the nature of human experience that goes far beyond the words or images or technique that convey these "truths"; keen expressions of "yea" that transcend the medium of communication, providing a fuzzy gestalt of new meanings outside the words themselves.
Visual poetry, on the other hand, offers methods of combining text with visual images (e.g., photographs, charts, color, drawings, electronic and print graphics, painting, collage, typographical arts, etc.). This is an extremely robust palette for communicating, expression, business, and reaction. The full range of human interests and concerns can be explored and expressed in visual poetry. We all have sometimes been "jolted" into a new level of awareness by reading newspapers, magazines, books, and electronic media that have combined words and images in an unforgettable manner. Some picture-poems have helped change our world views.
So, just what is the color of the number three? Or, the sound of one hand clapping, or the nature of our face before we were born? Sometimes, trying to answer these questions is like being a fly stuck in a square glass bottle, bouncing off the invisible constraints, uncomfortably stuck
in a dangerous muddle, squared up,
A concrete poem by Michael P. Garofalo
I use Dreamweaver Fireworks 4 to play with, practice with, and create new concrete poems. The software offers many text manipulation and control features. It features good output to standard web safe file formats, and in smaller file sizes. The options to attach text to paths, create layers of text, distort and skew text shapes, and apply effects to text fonts are very powerful. Also, Fireworks is a useful software tool for creating whole splash web pages.
I also use Dreamweaver MX to create the web page structure and background for the display of my concrete poems.
I try to keep my concrete poems to a one screen viewing size on IE 6.0. This provides a background area of roughly 9" wide and 6" high; and, an image area canvas of roughly 5 1/4" x 5 1/4" inches, or 500 x 500 pixels. or 13.25 ac 13.25 cm.
In Fireworks 4, the working file images are .png files, vector formatted images, and quite scalable as needed. The images can be saved to .gif or .jpg formats as needed for use on the web. The transparent .gif images look great in web pages.