Friday, August 10, 2007

Poetry as Visual Art

Today I discovered poems that speak to me in a way that makes my heart race and lips smile. It is an ah-ha moment for me. It is a kind of art that I can wrap my arms around. Poems that reflect my love of words as well as my obsession with visual fabric art. Sadly I'm not finding the images online to share with you. Above is one from DeviantArt

These poems should be seen rather than heard. They have various names for basically the same thing: calligrams, concrete poems, shaped poetics. They all rely on visual images made up of words.

We've probably all seen them before, maybe even made them. Teachers use them in the classroom. One of the most common arranges a phrase such as this one: "I walk upstairs and walk back down." And the words forms the stair steps that go UP and back down. Or use words as in this accompanying photo from Shelley Paul.

Another aspect of these visual poems that excite me comes in the way they can unite or at le
ast introduce some of us Westerners to Islamic calligraphy. Just writing the alphabet in Arabic looks beautiful, but place those letters into words and words into pictures and it will refresh your soul.

This form looks like something a quilter, embroiderer, fabric painter,needlepointer, paper artists, could have a lot of fun with.

And as the Aga Kahn,leader of the world's 15 million Ismaili Shia Muslims believes, art can become the medium of discourse that transcends barriers".

"The essential problem, as I see it, in relations between the Muslim world and the West is a clash of ignorance," he said in a recent speech.

What a beautiful way to connect to other worlds -- through fabric, words and beauty.

Another form that just begs to be included in pieced are Patchwork Poems. I understand them to be drawn from other poems. I line here, a word or phrase there, then pieced together into a new, original poem of your own. Ultimately the new poem should make a statement, have meaning, too. How fun to combine the two into Cali-pieced poem.

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