Entry 1377A — Taxonomy Construction, Cont.

I left out something important in Entry 1377.  (I probably should say that I realized that I just thought of one of important things I left out.)  It has to  with the helpfulness of showing how one’s taxonomy evolved from earlier ones.  For instance, to help show the validity of accepting visual poetry as a class of art that my poetry taxonomy should cover, I go back in history to the earliest (significant) visual poems (in English, since that’s my main focus, although pre-English culture should be investigated (as I have, I maintain, without finding anything useful to my particular project).  I’m speaking of the shaped poems of Herbert (and perhaps others).  They consist of nothing but words but are importantly visual.  Hence, I can argue that the first visual poems (of those I’m concerned with) were too verbal for any reasonable person to call not poems.

From there it seems to me the evolution of visual poetry is clear, with a side trip to France and other more purely verbal poems that are partly or wholly visually presented like Mallarme’s scatter of letters, and Apollinaire’s visual onomatopoeia (letters arranged to suggest rainfall, for instance), then on to more sophisticated visual arrangements of the purely verbal carried out by Cummings.  How can anyone argue against his visual poems as not poems?  What else can a lineated text doing other things poetry has long done, as well as a few thins visual art has done, but containing nothing but words?  And make sense only if their words are taken into consideration?  Concrete poetry was much more sophisticated than the work of Cummings, but remained in its purest form entirely verbal.  But some of it took on averbal graphic matter (and in my view sometimes stopped being poetry).  Combinations of the verbal and the purely graphic were at first no greater a step from what had previously been accepted as visual poetry than Herbert’s shaped poems were from entirely unvisual poems.  How could anyone argue that it was not reasonable to call them visual poems?

And so it can be shown, in my view, that the most complexly visual poetry of today has evolved, one small step at a time from Herbert’s shaped poetry, so should be accepted as a kind of poetry.


4 Responses to “Entry 1377A — Taxonomy Construction, Cont.”

  1. karl kempton says:

    good outline. please do not forge lewis carroll’s calligrams

    Note to Karl and others: this blog allows me to edit your comments, which I will never do except to correct spelling or remove obvious typos. The blog should not allow me to do this, it seems to me. Weird.

  2. Bob Grumman says:

    Sure, and Kenneth Patchen. Just a rough outline in my entry above.

  3. karl kempton says:

    i was referring to the 19th century english shaped poems by carol that are overlooked. i view them as a precursor to the calligrams more so than the dice tosser poem. i do not have knowledge to show that marllrame may have read alice in wonderland as a kid and thus a subconscious seed was planted.

    a thot i had looking up the root of calligram — had this term stuck a lot of the divisiveness over terms and schools, all that wasted energy could have gone into creating rather than fighting

  4. Bob Grumman says:

    Lewis Carroll should certainly have a place in an exhaustive history of the field, Karl (as I’m sure I’ve said here and there)–but I only need a few moments in that history to make my point about the evolution of visual poetry. That is, I was not stating my idea of how it evolved, only saying that a very rough examination of the evolution demonstrates its going one small step at a time from shaped poems (visual onomatopoeia) to extremely sophisticated, extremely visual contemporary visual poems.

Leave a Reply