Visual and Found Poetry – Do They Count?

One thing I’ve often wondered in all the time I’ve been writing poetry is whether Visual and Found Poetry count as legitimate forms of writing…  I don’t deny that these pieces of art are both beautiful and artistic, but do they qualify as poetry, or should they be defined as a type of visual art instead of a form of writing?  Visual poetry (similar to “concrete poetry”) is when an artist (for lack of a better term) uses other artistic means to augment the meaning and impact of his words:

phantoms_by_adorkablexbabyxwhale-d5920oz (http://www.deviantart.com/art/Phantoms-317541635)

Found poetry is a little different: it’s when an artist takes a piece of writing by someone else and picks choice words out of the text to make a new poem.  In essence, they’re using the words of someone else to create their own art:

the_wind_by_mel_face-d3iqkt9

(http://www.deviantart.com/art/The-Wind-212871645)

One specific form of Found Poetry that I find particularly intriguing is called “Title Poetry.”  The artist takes the titles of a number of pieces of artwork (usually but not necessarily pieces of writing) and arranges them in a particular order so that the author creates their own meaning (usually adding small words here and there to make it flow better, such as “and,” “or,” “the,” or “but,” etc.).  I’ve never written any of these forms of poetry, but I’ve read quite a lot of them; I’ve found that while some artists can structure these kinds of pieces so that it really sounds as if they composed the whole thing themselves, many others only succeed in gathering a collection of poetic vocabulary and fail to actually compose a meaningful poem with them:

Destiny bought me a drink

(http://ninquetari.deviantart.com/art/Destiny-bought-me-a-drink-364666837)

Should such pieces of art be classified as poetry?  Certainly they are both forms of art that use more than raw words to create meaning and make their point, so can they really be defined as writing?  I think some writers (James Joyce being a prime example) would argue that the aesthetics of a text matter a great deal – that they enhance the meaning behind what was written and help the author to communicate his intent.  But is this what they meant by “the aesthetics of the text”?

run_away_with_me__by_dearpoetry-d5d1sxy

(http://dearpoetry.deviantart.com/art/Promises-to-Monsters-324250054)

I think many other writers would argue that Visual and Found Poetry are not forms of true literature because they use too much visual help to augment the meaning of their words.  It can be argued, then, that “true literature” is writing that can stand on its own without the help of any extra visual aid.  Oh, and “found poetry” is just plagiarism.

reality_by_jay_cougar-d54ef2t

(http://www.deviantart.com/art/Reality-309722069)

But what do you think?  Can you “pick a side,” or do you have your own perspective on the subject?  I would love to hear about all your thoughts in the comments!

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4 thoughts on “Visual and Found Poetry – Do They Count?

  1. lopezsandra9 says:

    I have never heard of any of theses kinds of poetry, thank you for the enlightenment! I would consider these as forms of writing event though they do rely heavily on visual elements. The visual elements act more as an emphasis to the words that form the poem, I use similar forms of enhancements when I perform my poetry as I change my tone, volume, and tempo and use body and hand movements when appropriate. Thank you for sharing this post!

    • InkSplashes says:

      Thank you for commenting! Do you write a lot of Spoken-Word poetry, then? I’ve never tried it, but I have attempted to write song lyrics before…. they didn’t turn out very well. (:

  2. saranutter says:

    Thought-provoking! I actually didn’t know found/title poetry was a thing, and I really enjoyed learning about them. I definitely don’t think “found poetry” can be passed off as mere plagiarism. Though it uses a collection of words crafted by someone else, it makes something unique by picking words from the set to draw new meaning. Also, I agree that these types of poetry can be classified as writing, because the words could technically stand alone–but saying it’s just writing somewhat ignores the other elements that add emphasis and make the piece that much more powerful. I guess it’s kind of a hybrid in that way…

    • InkSplashes says:

      I’m glad to hear you learned something new from my post! I meant to present these forms of writing as they were and only mention what others have said about them, so I don’t actually think that found poetry is plagiarism. (: Thank you for voicing your opinion!

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