Guide to an Unknown Literature
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Pattern poetry—poetry from before 1900 that fuses literature and visual art—has existed since the times of ancient Crete and Egypt. Less well known than modern visual poetry, pattern poetry has been produced in most European and American literatures, and, as close analogues, in many oriental literatures.
This book tells the history of pattern poetry, documenting and classifying more than 2,000 works. Illustrations of each major genre of pattern poem are included. The book also explores related forms, such as graphic music notations, shaped prose, sound poetry, and poetic labyrinths, to name a few. A glossary, essays by two world authorities on the oriental analogues to the pattern poem, and the first full bibliography on pattern poetry complete the work. With this book, Dick Higgins has provided an indispensable tool for opening up the area of pattern poetry to the scholar and the lay reader alike, bringing order to what has been an obscure and confusing area, and delighting the eye and mind by casting light on these forgotten treasures.
Dick Higgins is an artist, poet, and Research Associate of the School of the Arts at the State University of New York at Purchase. He has been studying pattern poetry since 1968, when he was publisher and designer of Emmett Williams' Anthology of Concrete Poetry, which introduced that type of modern visual poetry to North America. He keeps his studio and library in a former church at Barrytown, New York, in the Hudson River Valley.