Creative writing activity for group/workshop

Altar Poems


to write a text whose form corresponds to its content

if possible to avoid referring to the theme of the poem, which is represented in the form, directly


plenary, then, individual work


‘40-Love’ by Roger McGough and ‘konkrete Poesie’


‘Altar poem’ is the technical term for a poem whose form represents its content. This can be a concrete representation of the concept as in concrete poetry, or a shape which illustrates an underlying concept (e.g. McGoughs 40-Love)


Try to think of a concrete experience, a mental image, an object or a phenomenon that you can picture vividly and that you can draw in very simple lines (e.g. a waterfall, a landslide, a rainbow).

Write down in prose how you might describe this to someone who is not familiar with the concept or how you could verbally illustrate it.

Try to cut the text from 2 until it represents the concept, the whole concept and nothing but the concept.

Use line breaks and indentations to bring your prose text into a form that mimics the concept.

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