more picture poems (or concrete poetry)

For a long time I have been doing picture poems (they do have other names) and I often show  the big ones I have done and my sketchbook when I visit schools. Some of them are going to be in my new book, The Letterbox Cat and Other Poems which Scholastic is publishing in AUGUST. So I am very excited about that.

Here is a bit of poem history:

In the 1950s, some Brazilian poets started making Concrete Poems. These were poems where the way the words looked on the page was just as important as how the words sounded or what they meant. Then Concrete Poetry went on a big adventure all round the world. Sometimes it was as though the poets were using words to make a picture on the page. So some people also started calling it Shape Poetry. Mostly words were used but sometimes poets added a few lines of drawing.

People have making shape poems for hundreds of years though. Here is a very famous poem by George Herbert. This was done in 1633 and is called ‘Easter Wings.’ If you look at the shape you can see it is like a bird flying.


I call my poems picture poems as sometimes I draw as much as I use words. I always want a picture to appear on the page but it can be made up of a mix of things. The one at the top here is called ‘Elephant’ and you get to read all the different parts of the animal. Sometimes when I am in schools I get everyone reading different bits of that poem at the same time. It is fun. Then there is a page from my sketchbook where the poem is mostly words. It is not finished but I was trying to make pyramid poems.

IMG_4132 IMG_4133

You can do your own picture poem and send it to me for the Eye Poem Challenge!

DEADLINE for your Eye-Poem Challenge: Thursday March 27th

Send to Include your name, year, age and name of school. You can include your teacher’s name and email. PLEASE say it’s for the eye-poem challenge.

I will post my favourites and have a book prize for one poet.

1 thought on “more picture poems (or concrete poetry)

  1. ilonarapp

    Thank you for sharing this inspired post! I Love the visual effect of concrete poetry. The historical record of its use is fascinating. What less could one expect from the Rennaissance!
    Your plays on spacing, punctuation and capitalization make me want to play with you.
    I’m just entering a pantoum in a local writer’s contest and am grieving over the rules that we must justify to the left. (Right ragged border). When I wrote the poem (It’s Raining in Anchorage) I centered it on the page and the visual effect was lovely, to my eye appearing like a silhouetted crest pole in a poem which addresses warming and the suppressed loss of entire villages in Alaska.
    I now have an exciting new addition to my girl’s homeschool owl project. I Will pass it on as well to their WAM Group(Writing, Art, and Movement). It couldn’t be more perfect! I’m posting your article and link to my newborn Tumblr site. With your permission I will add it to my blog as well (as soon as I have created my resources section). Thanks again.


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