Concrete Poetry

The art form connecting literature and typography

Concrete or Visual Poetry: language drawings, word images, image poems, often written on typewriters, composed and communicated simultaneously. Compositions of figurative poems, palindromes, anagrams, ambigrams, epigrams. Illustrative concepts and condensed excerpts, literal phrases and deconstructed paraphrases, rhythmic slogans and newly-formatted leitmotifs.

The forerunners are the shape and typographical poems of Christian Morgenstern (“Trichter”, “Fisches Nachtgesang”, 1905), futuristic literature, dadaistic sound and phonetic poems, the Merz poetry, the constructivist lower-case of the early 20th century.

The Swedish artist Öyvind Fahlstöm (“manifest för konkret poesi”, 1954), and the Bolivian-Swiss writer Eugen Gomringer (“Constellations” manifesto, 1954) simultaneously coin the term “Concrete Poetry” by analogy with the exhibition title "Concrete Art” chosen by Max Bill (Basler Kunsthalle, 1944). Brazilians call their lyric poetry “poesia concreta". In the mid-1950s, the “Stuttgarter Schule” of writers, typographers and artists network with the literary avant-garde of the “Darmstadt Circle”, the “Wiener Gruppe”, the Graz “Forum Stadtpark”, as well as with concrete poetry protagonists outside the German-speaking countries, in Europe, South America and Japan.

The radicality of Concrete Poetry stimulates Timm Ulrichs. He started his Concrete Poetry in the early 1960s with “AM ANFANG WAR DAS WORT AM.”, along with the anagrams “rose – eros”, “NATUR – UNRAT” and “ordnung – unordnung”, which the 2017 editions recall. Ulrichs' objectifying of typefaces also belong to this group of works,  including the three-dimensional word “DICE” (1964), the 6x6-eye “Fortune Cubes” (1965) and the epitaph “Always remember to forget me!” (1969/72), published by Artikel Editionen in 2002, 2007 and 2008.


On the publication of the 2017 Editions by Timm Ulrichs