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This report is taken from PN Review 264, Volume 48 Number 4, March - April 2022.

from What Is Poetry? Philip Terry
An artist takes two leaves and fixes them together with a paper clip. He calls the piece ‘Bureaucracy’. The artist is the Catalan Joan Brossa. The piece is an example of one of his ‘poem-objects’. This is not what we would normally think of as a poem. But if it is a poem it is perhaps because it presents us with likeness (as in the simile) and also unlikeness (also part of the simile, necessarily, though we sometimes forget this): the leaf is like the sheets of paper we file away in our filing cabinets (we speak of ‘leaves’ of paper), but it is also unlike paper. And it is in this unlikeness, as much as in likeness, that the force of the ‘poem’ resides, for while it seems natural to affix a paper clip to two sheets of paper, it borders on the absurd – and here we confront the surrealism of Brossa’s work – to carry out the same operation on the leaves of a tree.


What is concrete poetry? Concrete poetry is not the same as concrete, but it has some similarities. Reading An Introduction to Concrete Work, with certain sentences I can substitute the words ‘concrete poetry’ for ‘concrete’, and it still makes good sense: ‘If concrete poetry is to be strong, watertight, and durable it must be dense’; or ‘If fresh concrete poetry is put in an oven it will dry out quickly and crumble to pieces.’ With other sentences the sense is less clear: ‘Simply stated, ...

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