Concrete poetry: Wave/rock


If I was asked, “Why do you like concrete poetry?”
I could truthfully answer “Because it is beautiful.”







Original format: Printed sheet, 19 x 9½ inches, folded in half.

Concrete poetry is a kind of visual poetry, though the terminology is somewhat mixed. The example and quote above are by Ian Hamilton Finlay (1925–2006), a Scottish artist, poet, and gardener.

Wave/rock was published in issue 7 of Aspen, now hosted on UbuWeb.

See also:

Ian Hamilton Finley profile in The Guardian
Mary Ellen Solt’s book about concrete poetry
Pattern poems from ancient Greece

12 Responses to Concrete poetry: Wave/rock

  1. The subject of your blog makes me very conscious of my spelling and grammar when posting a comment here.

    Really lovely site you’ve got here. I’ve never heard of concrete poetry but, now that I have, I think I’ll investigate further.

  2. Stan says:

    Thanks Joey. Please don’t feel the need to be extra careful with spelling and grammar – I’m not judgemental about it, and unless I am editing something professionally I don’t feel any urge to correct mistakes. Communication is the thing.

    There is quite a lot of visual and concrete poetry online, from ancient forms to more contemporary examples. Happy investigations!

  3. This is quite lovely and interesting. However, I’m wondering: are there Jedis [sic] to keep the the large waves away to allow kids to swim without fear?

  4. Stan says:

    We can only hope so, MRP.

    [Context for readers curious about the Jedi reference.]

  5. Claudia says:

    Very interesting links. Thank you. I love the Ecclesiates ‘nothing new under the sun’…when it comes to creativity. I don’t find it discouraging. It’s like an unbroken chain in the human spirit. The pattern poems of Ancient Greece are not being copied. They’re being renewed. A bit like a resurrection.
    I’m not too sure about a poem without words…yet!

  6. Stan says:

    My pleasure, Claudia. I too like the way art is constantly recycled in fresh ways – as you suggest, it points to both our ancient human heritage and to our appetite for novelty. When skilfully and meaningfully done it allows us to reconcile the two. However, I don’t care for the phrase “nothing new under the sun”, since it goes against my experience of everything being new all the time!

    A few days ago I came across a quote that seems appropriate. Hermann Scherchen, the German violinist and conductor, in an analysis of the polyrhythm in Beethoven’s 3rd Symphony, wrote:

    “No ear can analyze the plenitude of contrasts although it can experience it audially. In our enjoyment of music we employ levels of capacity far in advance of our organic development. The musical work of art [since Beethoven] permits us to establish capacities in practice enabling us to intuit subsequent man and his reality. It points once again to the absurdity of the old adage ‘nothing is new under the sun’ invoked to discredit the limitless drive of creativity.”

    I don’t know if the phrase was invoked “to discredit the limitless drive of creativity”, and that’s obviously not how you interpret it, but I have found it used in that manner.

  7. Lucy says:

    Cool. I love ubuweb. They have a fantastic video library also.

  8. Stan says:

    They certainly do: they have more content than I will ever get around to seeing and listening to. But I’ll keep chipping away.

  9. Eamer O'Keeffe says:

    Mary Ellen Salt’s book has omitted the most renowned and prolific U.K.concrete poet I’ve ever known – perhaps she hasn’t heard of him – Bob Cobbing ! I used to attend his workshops – he was brilliant (sadly, he’s dead now).

  10. Stan says:

    Thank you for that, Eamer. Bob Cobbing seems brilliant indeed from what little I’ve seen and heard of him. Prompted by your post, I found and downloaded Sockless in Sandals, a short book of his work available at the Electronic Poetry Centre (which links to further resources at UBU). From early in the book:

    a ‘poet’ merely disrupts
    the solid, sensible business
    of the night.

  11. […] 25. how do they care for the wave rock? [I don’t know. The questioner meant this, I guess, but found concrete poetry.] […]

  12. concrete contractor says:

    Its not how i ever thought of concrete, but i do see how it can be beautiful.

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