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:
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:
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:
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”?
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.
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!