Experimenting with Conceptual Poetry

Conceptual poetry?  Apparently it’s a 21st Century Movement! 

I googled around a bit this evening, but trying to deal with it as a movement is making my head hurt.

But I do admire what Christian Bok did with his Eunoia where

The word ‘eunoia,’ which literally means ‘beautiful thinking,’ is the shortest word in English that contains all five vowels. Directly inspired by the Oulipo (l’Ouvroir de Littérature Potentielle), a French writers’ group interested in experimenting with different forms of literary constraint, Eunoia is a five-chapter book in which each chapter is a univocal lipogram – the first chapter has A as its only vowel, the second chapter E, etc. Each vowel takes on a distinct personality: the I is egotistical and romantic, the O jocular and obscene, the E elegiac and epic (including a retelling of the Iliad!).

Here’s the book online.   It took him 7 years!

Anyway, the concept of using a constraint interests me. Though I am NOT (to my shame) interested in doing something that takes 7 years.

I’m also interested in what used to be called concrete poetry.

However, I’m all confused now. Labels confuse me. But I went ahead and  made this poem (below). The whole thing is the poem. The way I made it is part of the poem – that I used an image from Microsoft Office and used Microsoft Word and then converted the Word file to a JPEG using a new website I discovered.

After looking at what I’d made, I started thinking about Eunoia. And about constraints. I noticed that my wee poem has 4 words starting with C. Perhaps I can do a sequence of poems – where the title starts with a certain consonant and then I use that consonant 3 more times in the poem. And in each case I use an image from the Microsoft Image Library…

So. Is it a poem? Is it conceptual poetry?



  1. I like it! It’s the stacking effect of your words and the weight in the bottom line – succinct and rather beautifully academic!

  2. Thanks Anonymous! It’s always a treat for me (and an honour) if someone reads something I’ve written – and takes the time to tell me what they think about it.

    I’ll keep experimenting 🙂

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