A page from the "Poetry through the Ages" exhibit...

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Synthetic poetry is dedicated to questioning and highlighting the material process of creating poetry. It asks readers to give equal weight to a poem’s material construct and the meaning of the final product. For hundreds of years, poets have been asked to participate in formal norms, slightly modifying the canzone, sonnet, and ode to suit their needs. At the beginning of the 20th century, however, early synthetic poets began focusing on how new formal constraints and experiments could lead them to generate fresh, innovative content.

These pioneers and their successors have used various methods (with differing degrees of success) to take poetry in new, unexplored directions. Thus, From DaDa to L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E, synthetic poetry can overlap with other forms and writing styles, and when combined with today’s technology, can help readers to see language and even consciousness in novel ways.

Rhyme: Possible, but not necessary
Structure: Constraint not necessarily mandated by syllabics or metrics. Instead, synthetic poetry often relies on other structural devices
Measure/Beat: Possible, but not necessary
Common Themes: Resists themes; instead, encourages readers to experience and partake in innovative uses of language
Other Notes:
  • Employs formal and procedural experiments
  • Asks readers to look anew at language and consciousness