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Border BlursConcrete Poetry in England and Scotland$
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Greg Thomas

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781789620269

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781789620269.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM LIVERPOOL SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.liverpool.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Liverpool University Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in LSO for personal use.date: 04 July 2022

Abstract Concrete

Abstract Concrete

Bob Cobbing

Chapter:
(p.203) Chapter Six Abstract Concrete
Source:
Border Blurs
Author(s):

Greg Thomas

Publisher:
Liverpool University Press
DOI:10.3828/liverpool/9781789620269.003.0006

In the work of the London-based poet Bob Cobbing, we can sense the culmination of a global shift in the definition of concrete poetry. For Cobbing, concrete poetry became a means of transcending or evading language in order to access a space of objective communication. His work responded to a whole gamut of twentieth-century and historical forms, from ritual chant-based practices to Dada performance, to the contemporaneous sound poetry of French ‘Ultralettrists’ such as Henri Chopin, William Burroughs’s cut-ups, and auto-destructive art. The example of classical concrete poetry served more as a stylistic counterpoint than a direct influence. Cobbing’s practice was also centrally motivated by a counter-cultural belief that artistic forms which broke down boundaries between media could have more broadly, socially disruptive and revolutionary effects. The development of these sentiments is traced from Cobbing’s early production of duplicator prints during the 1940-50s to his non-semantic, performance-oriented concrete practice of the early 1970s, in which single visual poems become the basis for endless improvisatory reworking. At the close of the chapter, the non-linguistic quality of Cobbing’s work is considered as a manifestation of, and response to, broader tensions within the concrete style.

Keywords:   Bob Cobbing, Concrete poetry, London, Sound poetry, Ritual, Dada, Cutup poetry, Autodestructive art, Counterculture, Performance poetry

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