Dirty Concrete Poetry and White Space
The Visual Texts of Steve McCaffery and Douglas Kearney
Keywords:Steve McCaffery, Douglas Kearney, concrete poetry, white space, visual text
Concrete poets Steve McCaffery and Douglas Kearney created exuberant graphic compositions of their words, almost half a century apart, using the typewriter and desktop publishing software on a personal computer, respectively. Because of the gritty, energetic, expressionistic quality of their work, this style is referred to as "dirty concrete poetry." They also approached white space in their poems with a mix of compositional and conceptual intention, although for Kearney, a Black man, the term "white space" takes on additional meaning. This paper explores the visual similarities and differences between the poets and considers how they bridge the verbal, vocal, and visual in their intermedia artform. Because these poets are not well known in the world of visual communications, this paper seeks to bring exposure to a new and relevant audience.