Set In Concrete

Impounded Illusion (Horizon), Sweeney Read 1976

The main thing behind Run, of course, was parkour. But one of the other main things was concrete poetry.

Words are fickle things. It’s hard to pin down meaning with them. I think most writers are aware of the limitations that words have, and our own limitations at crafting them to do what we want.

austracism, Vernon Ah Kee 2003

Words work harder in poetry though. They carry more weight, and they seem to be able to convey the abstract and the complex much better than their prose-bound cousins.

I think Run was really conceived when I had the idea to write it (at least partly) using concrete poetry – where the words function not only linguistically but also visually.

I was reminded of how good concrete poetry can be at the recent Born to Concrete exhibition at the State Library of NSW. A survey of Australian concrete poetry from the last forty years or so, it shows how striking, how powerful, and how relevant this form still is.


One of my favourite parts of the exhibition was the obligatory interactive bit. For once it really was interactive, and it really worked. Inviting people to create their own concrete poetry, it seemed to free people up from the terror of meaning, and just allow them to play.

Which is what this post is about, really. Which is what parkour is about. Which is what, ultimately lead to Run being born.


I encourage you.

The Poetry Foundation
Vernon Ah Kee
Anatol Knotek

Images, top to bottom:
Impounded Illusion (Horizon), Sweeney Read 1976
austracism, Vernon Ah Kee 2003
Inside every man is a zombie trying to get out, Jas H. Duke 1976