Pam Webb

a writer's journey as a reader

Archive for the tag “shape poetry”

Poetry Workshop: Getting in Shape with Concrete Poetry


First the grammar lesson, and then the poetry workshop lesson.


A common noun is a noun referring to a person, place, or thing in a general sense. There are many types of nouns: common, proper, possessive, singular, abstract and concrete.

Concrete Nouns

A concrete noun names animate and inanimate things  that can be perceived through the five senses: touch, sight, taste, hearing, or smell. Examples are: cats, doors, waffles, teachers. A concrete noun is the opposite of an abstract noun such as concepts like: love, liberty, courage.


With the basic noun lesson understood, let’s move on to the Poetry Workshop: Concrete Poetry.

Concrete Poetry: aka Shape Poetry aka Visual Poetry

Poetry in which the overall effect is influenced through visual means by forming or arranging the words in a pattern that reflects the subject or meaning.

The concrete aspect comes from basing the poem on tangible nouns, ones in which employ the senses, as opposed to abstract nouns.  For instance, I can write about how cats see us, but are often invisible as they hide in plain view or I can emphasize the cat aspect by shaping the words around this concrete noun:


Sometimes the poem and its shape is humorous:



And sometimes it is more art than actual words:




Other times there is a message within the message that turns out to be abstract after all:


concrete poem by jennifer Phillips

For the most part, concrete poetry is a visual blending of text and shape.  It’s an interactive expression, a melding and mixing of art, thought, feeling. Get into poetry by getting into shape.

Explore more with forming!



Shaping Up Poetry: Concrete Poems

One thing I truly enjoy about poetry is its diversity when it comes to form.  This week I’ll be featuring a variety of poem forms.  First up is concrete poetry.  Take it away Wikipedia:

George Herbert‘s “Easter Wings”, printed in 1633 on two facing pages (one stanza per page), sideways, so that the lines would call to mind birds flying up with outstretched wings.

Concrete poetry or shape poetry is poetry in which the typographical arrangement of words is as important in conveying the intended effect as the conventional elements of the poem, such as meaning of words, rhythm, rhyme and so on.

It is sometimes referred to as visual poetry, a term that has evolved to have distinct meaning of its own, but which shares the distinction of being poetry in which the visual elements are as important as the text.

Now that the definition is out of the way here are some examples.  Enjoy!

My students adore this form due to its playful nature, and I can often coax a poem out of them through shaping the words.  I encourage you to experiment or at least to look up more examples.

Happy Poetry Month!

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