What is Experimental Poetry?
Many experimental poets seek a different way of writing poetry than that of their conventional contemporaries. They experiment with word choice, spacing, visual art additions and more.
They push the status quo boundaries of what poetry and other forms of art should be, blurring metrical lines and genres. The result is a type of literature that can be both beautiful and difficult to read.
What is Experimental Poetry?
In the most general sense, experimental poetry is trying things that aren’t necessarily traditional in order to push the boundaries of what poetry can do. It might involve fractured images, a lack of clear meter, visual art additions to the work, found poetry, cut-ups and other recombinatory techniques or a variety of other ways of surprising readers with something new and interesting.
For example, “Circle The Wagons In Ink: Mediatation on Treaty Two” by Shane Rhodes is a visual poem that takes phrases from a government treaty and uses them as a basis for a piece of textual poetry. This is a great example of experimental poetry because it is breaking the rules that would normally be followed in traditional textual composition.
Another example of experimental poetry is Black Mountain School, a group of poets who were part of an alternative college in the 1950s and 1960s. This group experimented with various poetic forms including Charles Olson’s theory of projective verse and other avant-garde techniques.
How do I Write an Experimental Poem?
Whether they are summoned in hours of deep contemplation, snatched from momentary flashes of inspiration, or allowed to tumble out freely without conscious intervention, words are the heart and soul of a poem. Words are the carriers of sense, sound, cadence and meaning.
To write an experimental poem, try something new with language – experiment with internal rhyme, repetition, and condensed syntax. You could also experiment with a form like a limerick, which is half prose and half verse.
You might experiment with writing a poem that focuses on relationships and connections rather than on a central theme or narrative. For example, you might write a poem about the different ways you feel about one person or object. You might also experiment with writing a poem that doesn’t use the pronoun I at all. Or you might experiment with a subject that doesn’t traditionally belong to poetry, such as science or nature. This could involve researching and gathering information about the topic and then using it to create a poem.
What is the Difference Between Experimental Poetry and Traditional Poetry?
As the name suggests, experimental poetry experiments with language in various ways. It can take many forms, from found poetry to AI-generated poetry. In traditional poetry, the poet has complete control over their poem’s form and meaning. Experimental poetry, on the other hand, often leaves these factors up to chance.
For example, one of the most famous experimental poems is a piece by Stephane Mallarme called “A Dice Throw.” This poem uses different amounts of blank space between words and lines to create an unusual form. Italo Calvino and Michael Ondaatje are other well-known experimental writers.
Historically, avant-garde movements such as the Dadaists and Futurists helped to spur poetic experimentation. They used newspaper clippings, erasure, and other techniques to break down conventional literary boundaries.
What is the Definition of Experimental Poetry?
Ultimately, the definition of experimental poetry is open to interpretation. For some writers, it is about removing the centuries-old burden of ideas, allusions, and repetition from poetry. For others, it is about exploring the nonverbal side of the poetic medium.
This can include visual and aural experiments. For example, the concrete poets of the 1950s experimented with typography, graphics, the ideogram concept, computer poems, and collages. They drew influence from the works of the Dadaists and Surrealists.
Other examples of experimental poetry are erasure poems, prose poems, and visual poetry. In this course, students will explore these different forms of experimental poetry and how they can be used to create a more creative poem.
Contemporary experimental poetry also draws upon new research from cognitive science. Jessica Lewis Luck argues that the strangeness of experimental poetry materializes not just the content of the poem, but also the activity of the reader’s mind. This can lead to a more transformative reading experience.