Pushing Boundaries: The World of Experimental Poetry

Experimental Poetry Techniques

Just as cubists and post-impressionists revolutionized modern art, experimental poets have pushed the boundaries of literary form for over a century. In the process they have created a wide variety of innovative techniques.

Some of these techniques are visual while others are auditory or textual. But all of them aim to provide readers with a fresh perspective on poetry.

Syntax

The arrangement of words in a poem determines the rhythm and flow, which can convey a message and evoke emotions in the reader. This is known as syntax.

Poetry writers who seek a new point of view for their work often experiment with word choice, spacing and visual art additions. These techniques push the status quo boundaries of what is considered literature.

A common form of experimental poetry is the insertion or deletion of punctuation marks, such as the dot, the comma and the hyphen. These unconventional devices can reinforce the meaning of the lines on most occasions and produce creative effects, such as emphasis, describing chaotic scenes or schematizing any unit within the entire poem and producing iconicity. My analysis identifies 11 poetic functions that stem from this particular practice.

Form

Experimentation in poetry can involve manipulating form, syntax, rhythm or imagery in new and unexpected ways. It may also be a form of cultural critique. For example, the visual poet Jose Criado uses photographs of naked women and a Coca-Cola slogan to denounce publicist firms that exploit female bodies for commercial purposes in his work.

Other experimental poets may use found text or erasure techniques to create poetic works. For instance, blackout poems and erasure poetry collect existing texts and black out or cross out parts of them to form new poems. They may also experiment with ekphrastic techniques by using images and artwork to create their poems. The goal is to challenge conventional structures and create a new foundational artistic language. Some experiments may not be immediately successful, but they may become part of a poetic canon.

Rhythm

Rhythm in writing is all about the natural stresses of words that create a pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables. This creates a tempo that forces the reader to rush through your story or linger on each sentence. Good writing has a flow to it that can be created by varying sentence length, sentence structure, and even the paragraph layout of your piece.

Experimental poetry often utilizes techniques that challenge traditional language, syntax, and form. It is a type of poetry that pushes the boundaries of what can be considered poetry and aims to create new responses from readers. This can include using unconventional grammar, typography, or multimedia elements in a poem. It can also involve incorporating words that don’t rhyme with each other, or trying out different rhyme schemes.

Imagery

As the name suggests, experimental poetry is anything but standard. It encompasses a wide range of forms, techniques, and groups with a common goal: to explore the possibilities of language.

In experimental poetry, images are used to appeal to readers’ senses. They want the reader to feel, touch, taste, smell, and hear the poem, rather than just read it.

Many artists experiment with visual aspects of poetry by using color, different kinds of noises, and technology. They also try to empty conventional values of signs and words, continuing the tradition of Surrealists who mixed genres. However, this doesn’t mean leaving words behind entirely. They are still present in most experimental compositions. They form the base of the poem and provide its substance. Other compositional elements are added.

Sound

In experimental poetry, the poem itself may be reshaped with sound and other elements. The sound of words can be manipulated in various ways, such as with internal rhyme, repetition, and condensed syntax.

Other experiments involve a sound-art approach to poetry such as the Bruitist or phonetic poem, the movement or kinetic poem, and the simultaneist poems that were invented by Tristan Tzara. These types of poems deny logic, structure and neat bytes of meaning and instead focus on a different kind of writing experience.

Ostermaier’s audio poem Autokino, for instance, features a combination of consonant and soft vowel sounds to create an ultra-soft and dreamy mood. This style of experimentation is more common amongst the younger generation of poets. This is because of their greater exposure to digital technologies and the influence of avant-garde music genres on poetic composition.

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